News Column

U.S. Fueling Plane Crashes in Kyrgyzstan

May 3, 2013

Sergei Loiko

A U.S. fueling plane crashed in the mountains of Kyrgyzstan on Friday, a local official said.

The Boeing 707 took off from the U.S. air base at Manas International Airport near Bishkek, officials said. The base is a key installation for transit operations to and from Afghanistan.

"At about 15:20 [local time], we received information that a U.S. fueling plane disappeared off the radar," Azamat Mambetov, an official of Kyrgyzstan's emergency ministry, said in a phone interview from Bishkek.

"Shortly after this news, we got a telephone call from a resident of an area about 40 miles west of Bishkek [the capital of Kyrgyzstan] that a big explosion was heard in the local mountains."

A local official told a Russian news agency that residents were reporting that the crash site was engulfed in flames.

Rescue teams were immediately sent to the area, Mambetov said.

He also said the plane, which according to preliminary information had five crew members, was seen by local residents as breaking up in midair before crashing in the mountainous area near the village of Chorgolu.

The lease on the U.S. Air Force base in Manas expires in 2014 and will not be extended, Kyrgyzstan President Almazbek Atambayev said last year.

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(c)2013 the Los Angeles Times

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Source: Copyright Los Angeles Times 2013


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