Pakistani soldiers cordon off the site where a Pakistani Army Aviation Corps aircraft crashed in Rawalpindi on July 30, 2019. - Fifteen people were killed when a small plane crashed into a residential area in the Pakistani city of Rawalpindi near the capital Islamabad, a rescue official told AFP early July 30. (Photo by AAMIR QURESHI / AFP)        (Photo credit should read AAMIR QURESHI/AFP/Getty Images)
PHOTO: AAMIR QURESHI/AFP/Getty Images
Pakistani soldiers cordon off the site where a Pakistani Army Aviation Corps aircraft crashed in Rawalpindi on July 30, 2019. - Fifteen people were killed when a small plane crashed into a residential area in the Pakistani city of Rawalpindi near the capital Islamabad, a rescue official told AFP early July 30. (Photo by AAMIR QURESHI / AFP) (Photo credit should read AAMIR QURESHI/AFP/Getty Images)
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(CNN) —  

At least 17 are dead after a Pakistani army plane crashed into a residential area in the major city of Rawalpindi early Tuesday morning, the country’s military said in a statement.

Locals reported hearing a loud explosion at about 2 a.m. after seeing a plane flying unusually low over the city.

“It was very, very low, unlike the planes that usually fly over the area,” said restaurant worker Irfan Zareen. “Suddenly, the plane started doing somersaults in the air and abruptly crashed.”

The body of a victim, killed after a Pakistani Army Aviation Corps aircraft crashed into residential buildings, is wheeled on a stretcher at hospital in Rawalpindi on July 30.
PHOTO: FAROOQ NAEEM/AFP/Getty Images
The body of a victim, killed after a Pakistani Army Aviation Corps aircraft crashed into residential buildings, is wheeled on a stretcher at hospital in Rawalpindi on July 30.

The plane came down in a suburb of Rawalpindi, between Bahria Town and the Defense Housing Authority, which is populated by working-class villages. Zareen said a number of houses were either damaged or destroyed.

Bike shop owner Mehvish Iqlaq said army helicopters and ambulances arrived and sealed off the area within 10 minutes of the crash. The area had been dark, without street lights, when the plane came down, she added.

“Perhaps the pilot had thought that was empty ground and attempted to land there,” she said.

According to the military’s Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) news agency, 12 of those killed were on the ground when the plane hit. The other five dead were crew members. Another two people have been reported injured.

People assist a man at the scene where a Pakistani military aircraft crashed in Rawalpindi on July 30.
PHOTO: AAMIR QURESHI/AFP/Getty Images
People assist a man at the scene where a Pakistani military aircraft crashed in Rawalpindi on July 30.

Among the dead were two high-ranking officers in the Pakistan army, the statement read.

There is currently no information about what caused the plane to crash into the city, which adjoins the Pakistani capital of Islamabad.