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Last Updated: Friday, 1 April, 2005, 16:09 GMT 17:09 UK
US finds Albania air crash bodies
Albanian and US rescuers have recovered four bodies from the wreckage of a US military plane that crashed with nine people on board in central Albania.

The C-130 transport plane hit Driza Mountain, about 100km (60 miles) south-east of the capital Tirana.

The search continues for the other five bodies. The dead were all Americans.

The plane was on a joint exercise with the Albanian military when it crashed on Thursday evening. The crew were based at RAF Mildenhall in the UK.

Major Sarah Strachan, from the United States European Command in Germany, told BBC News: "I have no confirmation at this time of the status of the individuals that were on this aircraft.

Night training mission

"There were nine US military members that were on board the US MC130H aircraft," he said.

"We have a US and Albanian search and rescue team at the crash site.

"The Albanian government and military personnel have been superb.

"They've helped assist in the rescue operations and been extremely co-operative."

He said the US Air Force had started an investigation into the cause of the accident.

Obviously it's a horrible tragedy and people are very upset
Major Sarah Strachan, US spokeswoman

"The aircraft was on a night training mission conducting joint combined exchange training with the Albanian military," said Major Strachan.

"Joint combined exchange training is a regular programme that special operations command Europe conducts throughout many countries in our area of responsibility.

"In this case it was a unit from the 352nd special operations group out of RAF Mildenhall, United Kingdom, that was doing some training with the Albanian military.

"The commander of the 352nd special operations group has been working very closely with his staff and family members to get as much information out quickly and to make sure that people have the appropriate support.

"Obviously it's a horrible tragedy and people are very upset."


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