Witnesses: Plane on fire broke up in air
MOSCOW — Witnesses say a U.S. tanker airplane that crashed Friday in northern Kyrgyzstan caught fire and broke apart in the air, according to local officials.
Emergency response crews were dispatched to the scene, but the fate of the crew was not immediately known.
The Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker, which is used to refuel planes over Afghanistan, took off from Manas International Airport near Bishkek, the capital of the central Asian nation, U.S. and local officials said.
“At about (3:20 p.m. local time), we received information that a U.S. fueling plane disappeared off the radar,” Azamat Mambetov, an official with Kyrgyzstan's Emergency Situations Ministry said by phone from Bishkek.
“Shortly after this news, we got a telephone call from a resident of an area about 40 miles west of Bishkek that a big explosion was heard in the local mountains.”
Ministry officials initially reported that the plane was carrying five crew members, but later revised the figure to three.
A statement from the 376th Air Expeditionary Wing, the U.S. Air Force unit based at Manas, did not specify how many people were aboard. The cause of the crash was under investigation, the statement said.
A local official told a Russian news agency that residents were reporting that the crash site was engulfed in flames.
“According to eyewitnesses' accounts, the plane caught fire and broke in half while still up in the air,” Bolot Shershenaliev, a senior emergency ministry official told the Rossiya 24 television channel. “They even said that they saw parachutes, but no parachutes have been found.”
The United States has a base at the airport in Manas, which it uses for transit operations to and from Afghanistan. The lease expires in 2014 and will not be extended, Kyrgyzstan President Almazbek Atambayev said last year.
The crash on Friday was the third in less than a week involving aircraft used by the U.S.-led coalition in Afghanistan. On Monday, seven civilians were killed when a U.S.-contracted cargo plane crashed shortly after takeoff from Bagram air field, north of the Afghan capital, Kabul. On Saturday, four U.S. airmen were killed when a military turboprop plane crashed in southern Afghanistan.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Landmark Ukraine, EU deal ratified
- Poll: ‘No’ leads ‘yes’ in a close Scotland vote on independence from United Kingdom
- In ISIS battle, U.S. wary of strengthening Syria’s Assad
- Islamic State releases video showing execution of British aid worker
- French try to head off video-streaming giant Netflix
- Convict’s wish for assisted suicide OK’d in Belgium
- 3 troops killed in Taliban strike in Afghanistan
- Nominees for 2 Iraqi ministries rejected
- Aid to Ukraine uncertain as its leader visits U.S.
- Al-Qaida’s South Asia wing claims 1st big strike
- With hours before secession vote, many in Scotland undecided