DAVAO (Updated, 2:04 p.m.) -- A military plane crashed into a residential area in Cotabato City on Thursday, killing at least eight people on board, officials said.

The Nomad plane owned by the Philippine Air Force (PAF) plowed several houses on the ground shortly after it took off Awang Airport in Cotabato City.

Eastern Mindanao Command chief Raymundo Ferrer confirmed the death of Lieutenant General Mario Butch Lacson of the 3rd Air Division and seven other air force personnel.

Reports said among those pulled out from the wreck were the bodies of two pilots, five crewmen and Lacson.

Eastern Mindanao Command (Eastmincom) spokesman Randolph Cabangbang said that around 11:35 a.m. on Thursday, the Nomad plane was bound for Zamboanga City.

"The plane suddenly encountered an emergency and crash landed," Cabangbang said.

Lacson along with other air force personnel who were onboard the aircraft attended a meeting at the Eastmincom headquarter in Davao City on Wednesday.

The Nomad plane, reportedly piloted by a certain Ordonio and Valdez, left Davao City at around 9 a.m. and dropped off Colonel Cris Tumanda of the Tactical Operations Group of the Eastmincom at the Awang Airport.

Cotabato City Mayor Muslimin Sema said the plane crashed near an urban poor housing subdivision.

Witness accounts showed that the plane was slowly descending and hit some houses before it crashed and exploded.

"It was flying in zigzag mode and crashed. Nobody was hit on the ground. All the dead were on the plane," Sema said. (Ben O. Tesiorna of Sun.Star Davao/ABC/Sunnex)