Afghan plane crash kills 43
An Afghan passenger plane carrying 43 people, including three Britons, crashed in the mountains of northern Afghanistan yesterday, sparking a frantic search operation, officials said.
It was unclear whether there were any survivors. The Pamir Airways plane had been en route from the northern province of Kunduz to Kabul when it came down over the treacherous Hindu Kush mountains, shrouded in heavy snow.
According to the passenger manifest seen by AFP, six people on board were foreigners and the rest Afghans.
A Turkish aid organisation, the IHH, said two of its employees -- both Turkish men -- were on board the ill-fated plane, but there was no immediate confirmation from the Turkish foreign ministry.
"I can confirm that a Pamir Airways plane has crashed over the Salang mountains with 38 passengers and five crew members on board," interior ministry spokesman Zemarai Bashary told AFP.
The Afghan acting transport minister, Mohammadullah Batash, said the aircraft lost radio contact 37 minutes after taking off on a return journey to the capital -- normally around an hour's flying.
"The plane left Kabul at 6:40 am (0210 GMT) and took off from Kunduz at 8:30 am back to Kabul, but lost radio contact at 9:07 am," Batash said.
The minister, who went to the suspected crash site in the Salang mountains to oversee the search for the wreckage and any survivors, said the cause of the crash was not clear. Poor weather could have been a contributing factor.
"We have to recover the black box to determine the cause," Batash said.