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Thursday, 10 January, 2002, 06:07 GMT
No survivors in US plane crash
KC-130 like the one which crashed
The crew of the crashed plane included a woman
The American Defence Department has announced that all seven marines on board a military plane that crashed in Pakistan on Wednesday were killed in the incident.

The Pentagon released the names of the dead, who included six men and the first female member of the US services to have died since the beginning of the military campaign in Afghanistan three months ago.

Crew members killed
Captain Matthew W Bancroft
Captain Daniel G McCollum
Gunnery Sergeant Stephen L Bryson
Staff Sergeant Scott N Germosen
Sergeant Nathan P Hays
Lance Corporal Bryan P Bertrand
Sergeant Jeannette L Winters

Officials said the exact cause for the crash was unknown. It occured during an approach to Shamsi airfield, about 280 km (170 miles) south-west of Quetta in Baluchistan province, which is used by US forces operating in neighbouring Afghanistan.

The KC-130 is an aircraft routinely used by US Marines for in-flight refuelling of helicopters.

It had been on a multi-stop mission originating in Jacobabad, east of Shamsi, when it came down in a remote, sparsely-populated area at about 2015 local time (1515 GMT) on Wednesday.

The Pentagon has said it does not believe hostile action was responsible for the crash.

Site secured

Eyewitnesses are quoted as saying they saw flames coming from the plane before it crashed.

Our hearts and prayers go out to the families of the soldiers but I want to remind them that the cause that we are now engaged in is just and noble - the cause is freedom

US President George W Bush
"Residents saw flames from the burning plane before it crashed into the Lundi mountains," local reporter Saeed Malangzai told the Associated Press news agency.

US Marines and Pakistani personnel have reached and secured the crash site, but the terrain has hampered the recovery of bodies, said a US Central Command spokesman.

"We made it to the crash site on foot," said Major Randy Sandoz.

"But they were unable to remain there. It is a very steep grade and they were unable to get footing. The site is secure."

The US, which launched a military campaign against Afghanistan's Taleban rulers in early October, has continued to carry out air strikes in the hope of rooting out remaining members of Osama Bin Laden's al-Qaeda network.

Last month, a US Marine helicopter burst into flames after crashing near a US held airstrip in southern Afghanistan, injuring one Marine on board and one on the ground.

President George W Bush conveyed his condolences to the dead crew's families but said those killed had been fighting in a "just and noble" cause.

"The cause is freedom and this nation will not rest until we've achieved our objective," he said.

The BBC's Richard Lister in Washington
"What caused the crash is unclear"
Military aviation writer Robert Hewson
"Up until now the loss of life and the number of operational incidents has been remarkably low"
See also:

06 Jan 02 | South Asia
US 'resumes Afghan bombing'
02 Jan 02 | South Asia
Analysis: Al-Qaeda to struggle on
18 Dec 01 | South Asia
Bin Laden's disappearing act
03 Nov 01 | South Asia
US scorns Taleban helicopter claim
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