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U.S. military plane crashes in Kyrgyzstan

MGN
Friday, May 3, 2013 - 10:32am

MOSCOW (CNN) -- An American military refueling plane took off and crashed in Kyrgyzstan on Friday, Kyrgyz and U.S. officials said.

Three people were on board, said Bolot Sharshenaliev of the Kyrgyz Emergencies Ministry. A ministry spokeswoman had previously said there were five. The U.S. military didn't give the number of those on the plane and said "the status of the crew is unknown."

The plane was a U.S. Air Force KC-135 tanker aircraft, according to the U.S. 376th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs Transit Center at Manas, near Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. The crew and aircraft are assigned to the transit center.

The Manas transit center is a U.S. airbase that serves as a supply hub for American forces in Afghanistan. It is located at the Manas airport.

The plane crashed in a mountainous area between Chorgolu and Cholok-Aryk -- two villages in the Chuysky region of northern Kyrgyzstan, and a fire crew and three ambulances responded, Elmira Shyrypova, at the Kyrgyz Emergencies Ministry press office.

The transit center said investigators are determining the cause of the crash and emergency responders were on the scene

Kyrgyz Prime Minister Jantoro Satybaldiev held an emergency meeting in connection with the crash, state media reported.

Sharshenaliev said debris from the crash was scattered over an area of about a kilometer radius. He said witnesses calling in on a hotline said they saw a parachute when the plane was falling. Others said they saw an explosion and the plane was broken in half.

-- CNN's Yousuf Basil and Barbara Starr contributed to this report

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