People surround the wreckage of a Conviasa airplane after it crashed about 10 kilometres from the eastern city of Puerto Ordaz, Venezuela, on Monday. ((Globovision Television News/Associated Press))

At least 15 people were killed Monday when a Conviasa plane carrying 51 people crashed during a domestic flight in Venezuela.

The French-built ATR-42 from the state airline Conviasa crashed about 10 kilometres from the eastern city of Puerto Ordaz, Transportation Minister Francisco Garces told state television. He said the plane went down on the property of the state-run Sidor steel foundry.

The plane, a twin-engine turboprop, was carrying 47 passengers and four crew members, Bolivar state Gov. Francisco Rangel Gomez told the Venezuela-based television network Telesur.

He said that Conviasa Flight 2350 had taken off from Margarita Island and crashed shortly before reaching its destination, the airport of Puerto Ordaz. Garces had initially said the plane went down shortly after takeoff.

"We still don't know the exact cause," Gomez told state TV, adding that the pilot had radioed warning the plane was in difficulty.

The plane crashed onto property belonging to Sidor, which has a large mill and land near Ciudad Guayana, said Transportation Minister Francisco Garces.

The state airline, Consorcio Venezolano de Industrias Aeronauticas y Servicios Aeros SA, began operations in 2004. It says it serves destinations in Venezuela, the Caribbean, Argentina, Iran and Syria.

Conviasa is Venezuela's state-owned airline, headquartered near Caracas. It has been in operation since 2004.

In the last major crash in Venezuela in 2008, a plane belonging to private local airline Santa Barbara with 46  passengers on board crashed into mountains. There were no survivors.