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43 killed in Afghan plane crash
Kabul, May 17 (Agencies):
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Published on 17 May. 2010 10:48 PM IST
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An airplane carrying 38 passengers, including six foreigners, and five crew members crashed Monday in north Afghanistan, officials said.
The plane, operated by private airline Pamir, was on its way from northern Kunduz to the capital city of Kabul when it lost contact with the air traffic control at around 11:30 a.m. (0700 GMT) in the mountainous Hindu Kush region.
The aircraft crashed somewhere near Salang Pass between Baghlan and Parwan provinces, about 100 km from Kabul, Interior Ministry spokesman Zemarai Bashary told Xinhua.
He said that the ministry was sending a team to probe into the accident.
Rahimullah Hamid, general manager of Pamir Airways, told Xinhua that he was on way to the northern Salang area in a bid to check ‘an explosion site’.
Ahmad Javed Basharat, police spokesman of Baghlan province, said the plane crashed south of Salang Pass. The aircraft was carrying five crew members and 38 passengers, including six foreigners, provincial governor Mohammad Omar said.
There was one Pakistani and one Turk on board but the nationalities of the other foreigners were not known.
A spokesman for the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said they were assisting local authorities in searching for the wreckage.
Cloud and rain were hindering the search, the spokesman said, adding that two ISAF helicopters were on their way to the area. It was thought the plane went down near the 3,300-metre Salang Pass, which connects the capital Kabul with the north of the country.
Search planes were sent to the last known position of the plane by Nato, but the US aircraft only got within four miles of the crash site before it had to abort due to bad weather, a spokesman said.
“All eyes were searching for the plane but the fog was so bad you couldn’t tell where the mountain began and the fog ended,” he said.
Other helicopters were on standby at Bagram Air Field and the Kabul airport to assist in any rescue effort
“The weather is very bad,” said Gen. Rajab, commander of the Salang Pass for the Afghan Ministry of Public Works, who goes by only one name. “It is snowing. There is flooding.”
The Kabul-based airways, which started operating in 1995, has daily flights to major Afghan cities and also puts on flights for the Hajj pilgrimage to Dubai and Saudi Arabia.
According to its website, the airline uses Antonov An-24 type aircraft, which is a 60-year-old, medium range twin-turboprop civil aircraft built in the former Soviet Union from 1950 to 1978, on all its Kunduz-to-Kabul flights.
Airlines in the developing world frequently use this model of aircraft due to its low operating costs, ease of maintenance, rugged design and ability to operate from unprepared airstrips with austere navigational aids.
The British Embassy in Kabul confirmed three British nationals were on the plane but could not say who they worked for or give further details about them.

 
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