Rescuers locate Afghan plane crash area

Afghan and NATO rescuers located the area where an Afghan passenger plane crashed.

Salang: Afghan and NATO rescuers on Tuesday
located the area where an Afghan passenger plane crashed with
43 people on board, including three Britons and an American,
an official said.

More than 24 hours after the plane lost radio contact
over the treacherous Hindu Kush mountains, the prospect of
finding survivors appeared slim as anguished relatives
gathered at the foot of the mountain-pass near Salang.

The ageing Pamir Airways Antonov 24 turboprop plane was
en route from the northern province of Kunduz to Kabul when it
came down in bad weather, although officials said it was too
early to rule on the cause of the crash.

"We have managed to locate the crash area," Yalda Natiq,
head of communications at the transport ministry, said to a news agency.

"It is in northern Salang but due to fog, bad weather and
poor visibility the reconnaissance plane and helicopters now
cannot pinpoint the wreckage," she added. The area is one of
harsh mountain terrain.

Asked whether signals from the plane`s black box had been
picked up, Natiq said: "The systems show where the crash area
is and helicopters are flying over the area to locate the
wreckage now."

On the ground, Afghan police and locals familiar with the
area are climbing the mountain again for the second day to
search for the wreckage.

President Hamid Karzai expressed grief over the crash.
"Cloud, fog, lightning and rain does not allow the search
in some areas," he told reporters.

"We hope to be able to find the victims of this incident
and hand them over to their families," he said.

Rescuers were forced to suspend the search operation in
the snow-capped mountains overnight, owing to bad weather.

Freezing temperatures would make conditions extremely
difficult for any survivors.

A highway task force, responsible for clearing snow from
the Salang mountain pass -- the main road from Kabul to
northern Afghanistan -- reported hearing a blast at around the
time the plane went missing, police said.

NATO`s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF),
fighting against the Taliban, dispatched a plane and two
helicopters to the area, but also acknowledged that poor
weather conditions hampered the search.

According to the passenger manifest of the plane seen by a news agency, six of those on board were foreigners and the rest
Afghans. The British embassy confirmed that three Britons were
on the plane, and the US State Department that there was one


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