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4 February 2005
An Afghan passenger aircraft, with 104 people on board, has gone missing after being turned away from Kabul airport, Afghanistan, due to a snow storm, an airline official said today. The Boeing 737 belonging to a private airline, Kam Air, was on a flight from the western city of Herat to Kabul yesterday, said Atilla Kamgar, the airline’s financial controller. He said the aircraft contacted Peshawar airport, in Pakistan, after being turned away from Kabul, due to heavy snow that had closed the airport. “It was given clearance to land, but it never arrived,” Kamgar said. “Lahore airport earlier reported to us that it had landed in Peshawar, then when we contacted Peshawar they told us it had not landed. A US military spokesman said the aircraft had been reported missing to them. It had not landed at any US-led coalition airfields in Afghanistan.
4 February 2005. The wreckage of an Afghan passenger plane that went missing with 104 people on board was found near the capital, Kabul, today, a western security source said. The Kam Air Boeing 737 was found to the north-east of the capital, but the security source did not say if there were any survivors. The airliner went missing yesterday after being turned away from Kabul airport because of heavy snow.
5 February 2005. The wreckage of a missing Afghan jet has been found in mountains east of the capital Kabul with all 104 people on board feared dead, an interior ministry spokesman said. “So far we don’t think there are any survivors,” interior ministry spokesman Lutfullah Mashal said. “The plane is completely destroyed.” But Transportation Minister Anayatullah Qasimi spoke of mounting a search and rescue operation. “We heard for the first time that the plane has crashed so first of all our top priority is to make sure that if there are survivors we have to get to them,” Mr Qasimi said. “It is a rescue and search operation. First we will take the passengers who are alive or injured, and then the bodies will also be carried as well.” The wreckage was found in mountains 20 km east of Kabul at around 930, UTC, during a joint search operation by Afghan police, army and NATO-led peacekeeping troops from the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), he said. The area has been blanketed by heavy snow this week and Afghan officials said bad weather was preventing search teams from reaching the wreckage on the ground to check for any possible survivors. The private Kam Air Boeing 737 went missing on Thursday (3 February) during a domestic flight from the western city of Herat to Kabul. ISAF helicopters found the wreckage and the peacekeeping force then deployed a specialised mountain rescue team to the site. “We have found it at an altitude of 3,000 metres,” ISAF spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Patrick Poulain said. There were 23 confirmed foreign nationals aboard the aircraft, including six Americans, one Iranian, three Italians, nine Turks and four Russian crew members, official sources from the countries or companies said. “Apache helicopters from ISAF spotted the wreckage and a team of mountain rescue specialists is on site,” Lt. Col. Poulain added. He would not comment on the fate of the passengers, saying it was too early to know. A Canadian ISAF soldier questioned near the crash site said a camp had been established at the base of the mountain, where the wreckage was visible. The mountain was so steep the operation could “take days”, said the soldier. Defence ministry spokesman General Zahir Azimi, who flew over the crash site, said bad weather was preventing the search for crash victims and the operation would resume tomorrow. Kam Air owner Zmarai Kamgar confirmed the wreckage of the aircraft had been found but was also unable to elaborate on the fate of the passengers. ISAF had mobilised two platoons of troops to hunt for the aircraft in the region south-east of the capital. Defence ministry spokesman Azimi earlier told AFP some 500 Afghan National Army soldiers were engaged in the search.
6 February 2005. The commander of Afghanistan’s former ruling Taliban group says his guerrillas did not shoot down a passenger aircraft which crashed two days ago. NATO helicopters have found the wreckage of the Afghan airliner on a mountain top near the Afghanistan capital Kabul. One hundred and four people were on board. Authorities say they are still searching for any survivors. Earlier authorities had said all 96 passengers and eight crew had been killed. Taliban leader Mullah Dadullah says his guerrillas were not responsible for the aircraft coming down.
7 February 2005. Local and foreign police and troops are struggling to reach the spot where an Afghan aircraft carrying 104 people crashed in rugged snow clad mountains east of Kabul, with officials conceding there was little or no chance of finding any survivors. Bad weather has hampered helicopter flights to the area and ground troops have been told to try to reach the site, although deep snow and the rugged terrain are hindering efforts three days after the crash. ISAF was planning to drop troops to the crash site but weather conditions had not permitted them to conduct the operation by early yesterday afternoon. Officials say around 1,000 Afghan police and soldiers are involved in the operation. However, chances of reaching close to the snow-capped peaks appear slim as residents say weather in the area improves briefly in the afternoon but it is dark after 17:30. “There is about one to two metres of snow and we estimate that another 50 centimetres of snow fell overnight. The landing zone is very difficult due to steepness, snow and the general terrain,” ISAF spokeswoman Major Karen Tissot van Patot said. The private Kam Air Boeing 737-200 went missing on Thursday (3 February) during a domestic flight from the western city of Herat to Kabul.
7 February 2005. Nato-led peacekeeping troops have reached the wreckage of an Afghan airliner that crashed on Thursday (3 February) near Kabul after running into snowstorms. All 104 passengers on board the Kam Air Boeing 737 are feared dead. If confirmed, this will be Afghanistan’s worst air disaster. The wreckage was spotted by helicopter crews of the peacekeeping force high-up in a snow-covered mountain on Saturday (5 February), but bad weather prevented rescue teams from approaching the remote area. “The weather is much better today, which allowed them to get to the top,” a spokesman for the Nato-led peacekeeping force, Isaf, Major Joseph Bowman, told reporters. “They’re looking for survivors and trying to make the site secure.”
9 February 2005. The owners of a Boeing 737 (EX-037) that crashed near Kabul last week with the loss of 104 lives believe bad weather caused the accident, not any fault with the airliner, an official of the firm said today. “The plane crashed in Kabul due to bad weather and not safety issues, it was unfortunate but not our fault,” said a manager at Phoenix Aviation, a firm based at Sharjar in the United Arab Emirates that leased the doomed aircraft to Afghan firm Kam Air. The comments came after a U.N. agency in Afghanistan said it had suspended a lease contract it had with Phoenix Aviation for another Boeing 737 as a safety precaution after last Thursday’s (3 February) crash south-east of the Afghan capital. “It’s more of a precaution than anything else as the Kam Air flight was a plane leased from Phoenix Aviation,” said Charles Vincent, Kabul representative of the World Food Programme, which manages the U.N. Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS). He stressed the move was not prompted by a specific security concern:It’s normal procedure after a plane crash to review the safety of the plane and the company that supplies it. It’s for the clients peace of mind – we want to be able to assure them they are flying on a safe aircraft with a safe company.
The Phoenix Aviation manager, who did not want to be identified, said the WFP had not listed the Kabul crash as a reason for suspending the contract. He said Phoenix had expected it to be scrapped because of several months of “management problems” with the United Nations. Vincent said UNHAS had leased a Boeing 737 from Phoenix for its regular flight between Kabul and Dubai. He said the Dubai route was now being flown by an aircraft from a different firm. The Kam Air.
Boeing, which the airline said was 23 years old, crashed on a mountain after a flight from the western city of Herat. The government says all 104 people on board had died. Among them were more than 20 foreigners, including nine Turks, six Americans, three Italians and an Iranian. At least four Russians and a Canadian were among the crew. The pilot was Russian and the first officer Canadian. Troops from Afghanistan’s NATO-led peacekeeping force found human remains at the site on Monday (7 February) but bad weather has since prevented efforts to recover bodies and cockpit voice recorders that could help to explain the crash. The cause of the crash, Afghanistan’s worst-ever civil aviation disaster, is being investigated by the government and representatives of countries with nationals aboard the plane. The US National Transportation Safety Board has sent a five-person team to Afghanistan to assist the investigation and the government said officials from Boeing may also take part.
13 February 2005. NATO and Afghan troops today began trying to recover the bodies of 104 people killed in the crash of an Afghan airliner, a NATO commander said, ten days after it smashed into a mountain in a snowstorm. The first clear weather in nearly a week allowed helicopters to ferry a NATO de-mining team and Afghan soldiers to the snow-covered peak 20 mile east of the capital, Kabul, said Lt. Gen. Ethem Erdagi, the NATO force’s Turkish commander. Afghan officials say the cause of the crash remains a mystery and have called in US experts to help investigate. The private airline, Kam Air, says the pilot turned away from Kabul to seek an easier landing in Pakistan; the plane’s flight recorder has yet to be located. Officials say the wreckage lies scattered in deep snow at an altitude of about 10,000 ft and that it could take weeks to collect the bodies. The plane hit near an old military lookout that is believed to be mined.
13 February 2005. NATO and Afghan troops today retrieved the flight recorder from a crashed Afghan airliner which crashed into a mountain in a snowstorm, killing all 104 people on board, an Afghan official said. Maj. Gen. Mohammed Moeen Faqir, an Afghan army commander, said the teams had not yet been able to recover any of the bodies. However, Defence Ministry spokesman Gen. Mohammed Zaher Azimi said the flight recorder had been found. “It is in the hands of the investigating commission,” Azimi said.
15 February 2005. The first bodies from an Afghan aircraft (EX-037) which crashed and killed 104 people have been recovered from a frozen mountainside where they have been lying for the past 11 days. Bad weather had until now prevented troops from removing any corpses from the site east of the capital Kabul, where the Kam Air Boeing 737 came down on 3 February. “As part of the ongoing safety operation, the Afghan National Army found several bodies and they have been carried out to Kabul airport,” the Defence Ministry said in a statement. “After the identities of the bodies have been established they will be handed over to their families.” A source close to the investigation said that only two bodies had been found in a relatively intact state. US ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad says investigators have found the flight data recorder and it has been sent to the US for analysis. “The data recorder has been recovered and it has been turned over to the US. It will be taken to the US for the reading of the data. The voice recorder has not been recovered yet,” he said.