The charter aircraft carrying 20 employees of an Italian oil company crashed minutes after take-off in [AFP]

A small chartered aircraft has crashed minutes after taking off from Pakistan’s southern city of Karachi, killing all 21 people on board, the army has said.

The aircraft went down near a residential area, just outside the city on Friday.

The private carrier was heading for Bhit Shah in the north, according to a civil aviation authority spokesperson.

The pilot had reported engine trouble to the control tower immediately before the crash.

He was ordered to return to Karachi's Jinnah International Airport, but as he was turning the aircraft it went down in an open field, the spokesperson said.

The aircraft came down at Pehelwan Goth near the airport and caught fire.

Burned beyond recognition

At least 12 bodies have been recovered so far. Aviation officials said there was at least one foreigner on board.

"The plane has been destroyed," Lieutenant Colonel Noor Agha, an army official supervising recovery operations, said.

"The dead bodies are burned beyond recognition. It could not be recognised whether they are men or women. We don't know nationalities."

Civil aviation officials said the aircraft was chartered by the oil company ENI, which is based in Italy. No one from the company was responding to phone calls.

The crash was the second in less than four months in Pakistan.

Source: Agencies