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Bad Weather Hampers Afghan Plane Recovery

6 February 2005 -- A spokesman for the Afghan Defense Ministry says ground troops from NATO and the Afghan National Army have been unable to reach the icy mountain peak where an Afghan passenger jet crashed on.

The spokesman, General Zahir Azimi, said today all 104 people aboard the plane are feared dead.

"Unfortunately, the weather has been very bad. Journalists have been traveling with us, but because of the bad weather, we could not go further up the mountains to continue our search. We hope that the weather changes soon. The first moment it does, soldiers from the Afghan National Army will go to the crash site," Azimi said.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai and the U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad both have expressed sadness about the crash. There were at least 23 foreigners on board the plane, including several Americans as well as Turks, Italians, Russians, and an Iranian.

The plane was flying to Kabul from the western Afghan city of Herat when it lost contact during a snowstorm. A Dutch helicotper crew spotted the wreckage on a mountain top about 35 kilometers southeast of Kabul.


(translation from Dari by RFE/RL's Afghan service; nca-rs)