Monday, May 17, 2010

Afghan Pamir Airways AN-24 crashes with 42 onboard

Afghan passenger plane crashes

A passenger plane carrying 42 people on an internal flight between Kunduz and Kabul has crashed in a mountainous area of northern Afghanistan.

The Pamir Airways flight, which had 38 passengers and five crew members on board, crashed in remote mountains between the two cities, officials said.

The Russian made AN-24 aircraft took off from Kunduz airport on Monday morning, but never arrived in Kabul. Afghan authorities said that it had crashed.

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

"The Pamir Airways report said there were a number of foreigners on board."

He said that the Nato force in Afghanistan has been asked to assist in the search for the plane and that drones were searching for the crash site. A Nato spokesman confirmed that aircraft had been sent to the area.

Bad weather is already preventing rescue efforts, Al Jazeera's Hoda Abdel-Hamid, reporting from Kabul, said after speaking to police in the area the plane is thought to have crashed.

"We do not know the cause of the crash. It could be bad weather," she said. "The conditions are bad. It's so foggy there is no rescue going on."

She said that the airline bought the plane three months ago from Bulgaria.

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

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