Pamir Airways plane with 44 on board crashes in Afghanistan


KABUL, Afghanistan – An Afghan passenger plane carrying 44 people, including six foreigners, on a domestic flight crashed Monday near the Salang Pass north of the capital, officials said. There was no immediate word on casualties.

Rescuers were on their way to the crash site near the 12,700-foot (3,800-meter)-high Salang Pass, a major route through the Hindu Kush mountains that connects the capital to the north.

Airport Police Chief Mohammad Asif Jabar Khil said the plane went down about 60 miles (100 kilometers) from Kabul.

Zemeri Bashary, an Interior Ministry spokesman, said the plane was operated by Pamir Airways, a private Afghan airline. He said the Afghan government asked NATO for assistance. Col. Wayne Shanks, a spokesman for US and NATO forces, said the international force had sent aircraft to help in the search.

Raz Mohammad Alami, deputy transportation minister who was traveling to the crash site with the minister of aviation and other officials, said the plane was carrying 44 people, including six foreigners and six crew members.

Police chief Abdul Razaq Yabyaqoubi of northern Kunduz province said the plane left there at 8:30 am on Monday but never arrived in the capital.

Gen. Rajab, commander of the Salang Pass for the Afghan Ministry of Public Works, said weather conditions in the region were poor.

“The weather is very bad,” said Rajab, who goes by only one name. “It is snowing. There is flooding.”

Kabul-based Pamir Airways started operations in 1995. It has daily flights to major Afghan cities and also operates flights to Dubai and to Saudi Arabia for the Hajj pilgrimage.