US military plane crashes in Kyrgyzstan

2013-05-03 20:24
The US KC-135 Stratotanker plane crashed in the mountains of Kyrgyzstan shortly after taking off from a base that serves as a key hub for the campaign in Afghanistan. (Sabyr Ailchiyev, AFP)

The US KC-135 Stratotanker plane crashed in the mountains of Kyrgyzstan shortly after taking off from a base that serves as a key hub for the campaign in Afghanistan. (Sabyr Ailchiyev, AFP)

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Chaldovar - A US military tanker refuelling plane crashed on Friday in the rugged mountains of Kyrgyzstan, the Central Asian nation where the US operates a military base key to the war in Afghanistan.

There was no immediate word on casualties.

The search for survivors was complicated by the harsh terrain of soaring mountains and deep valleys.

The plane, a KC-135, was assigned to the Transit Centre at Manas, the base said in a statement.

It did not say how many crew members were on board or give other details.

The crash site is near the village of Chaldovar, about 160km west of the Manas air base.

Pieces of the plane, including its tail, lay in a grassy field bordered by mountains; the air was infused with the heavy stench of petrol.

The US base in Kyrgyzstan, called the Transit Centre at Manas, said it had no immediate information. The base, which is adjacent to the Manas International Airport outside the Kyrgyz capital of Bishkek, was established in late 2001 to support the international military campaign in Afghanistan.

It functions both as an interim point for troops going into or out of Afghanistan and as a home for the tanker planes that refuel warplanes in flight.

The base has been the subject of a contentious dispute between the US and its host nation.

In 2009, the US reached an agreement with the Kyrgyz government to use it in return for $60m a year.

But the lease runs out in June 2014 and the US wants to keep it beyond that point to aid in the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan.

On Monday, a Boeing 747 cargo plane crashed just after takeoff from the US military base in Bagram, Afghanistan, killing all seven people aboard.

Read more on:    kyrgyzstan  |  us  |  afghanistan  |  air crashes

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