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Asia-pacific

Commercial passenger plane crashes in Salang Pass area

©

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2010-05-17

A commercial Afghan plane carrying five crew and 38 passengers, including six foreigners, crashed Monday in the mountainous Salang Pass area between the northern Afghan city of Kunduz and capital Kabul, according to Afghan officials.

REUTERS - A local Pamir Airways plane with 38 passengers and five crew on board, including six foreigners, crashed in Afghanistan on Monday in the inaccessible mountainous Hindu Kush region near Kabul, officials said.

The airplane was en route from the northern city of Kunduz to the capital and went missing around 8 a.m. (0330 GMT).

"I can confirm that an aircraft carrying 38 passengers plus five crew has crashed somewhere in Salang Pass," Interior Ministry spokesman Zemarai Bashary told Reuters after receiving a report from the private Afghan airline.

The Salang pass lies around 100 km (60 miles) north of Kabul at an altitude of about 13,350 feet. The cause of the crash was not immediately known, but it came amid cloudy and rainy weather in Kabul and its surrounding areas.

"The Pamir Airways report said there were a number of foreigners on board," Bashary said. He said NATO-led forces have been asked to help locate the plane using pilotless drones.

A deputy minister for civil aviation and transport, Raaz Mohammad Alami, told Reuters the plane was an Antonov 24 and that six of the passengers were foreigners. He had no further details on their identities.

One Afghan passenger on board worked for GTZ, a German state aid organisation.

"One of our national staff members was on board this aircraft," Andreas Clausing, head of Germany's development agency in Afghanistan, told Reuters.

A spokesman for NATO-led forces said other aircraft had been sent to search for the plane. "The poor weather conditions in the area are hampering the aerial search," the International Security Assistance Force said in a statement. The terrain and weather in the mountains around Kabul are extremely inhospitable and it could take some time before the aircraft is found.

Pamir Airways is one of three major private Afghan airlines that operates mostly domestic routes across Afghanistan.

Aircraft belonging to the military and civilian contractors crash fairly regularly in Afghanistan, although crashes involving planes from commercial carriers are less common.

The last major crash involving a passenger aircraft in Afghanistan happened in February 2005, when a Boeing 737 operated by private Afghan carrier Kam Air crashed in a snow storm near Kabul, killing 104 passengers and crew.

Date created : 2010-05-17

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