(CNN) -- A plane crashed early Sunday in the southern port city of Karachi, killing at least eight people on board and sending flames shooting through the night sky, a Pakistani official said.
The cargo plane took off at 1:45 a.m. from the Jinnah Karachi International Airport for Khartoum, Sudan, said Pervez George, a spokesman for Pakistan's Civil Aviation Authority. It went down a few minutes later in the Gulistan-e Johar section of Karachi, an area where many Pakistani naval officers live.
Masood Raza, a Karachi district government official, told CNN affiliate GEO News in Pakistan that the pilot appeared to deliberately bring the plane down in a less densely populated residential area in order to save lives.
"If the plane would have crashed in a (more crowded) residential area, it would have been a very big disaster for the city of Karachi," Raza said.
All eight people confirmed dead were members of the downed aircraft's crew and all are Russian nationals, said George.
A local hospital spokesman told CNN that the hospital had received five bodies by 4 a.m.
The Russian-made cargo plane was carrying relief supplies, including tents, to Africa before it went down. The plane arrived in Karachi on Saturday from Fujairah, United Arab Emirates, George said.
An eyewitness told CNN that he saw fire on one of the plane's wings before it crashed.
Firefighters, rescue personnel and area residents rushed to the scene, with jet fuel fanning the large flames and huge plumes of smoke.
The blaze was put out by 4 a.m., according to George, at which point rescue personnel continued to comb through the rubble looking for other people possibly killed or hurt.
The plane appeared to hit several buildings under construction.
Hospital sources told GEO News that Mohammed Raees had burns over 60 percent of his body, resulting from the crash and subsequent fire. Raees told GEO News that he was hurt after flaming parts of a building hit him and the motorcyle he was preparing to ride.