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Thursday, 13 June, 2002, 09:06 GMT 10:06 UK
US probes Afghan plane crash
US Air Force MC-130 Combat Talon
The plane was an MC-130 Combat Talon
US investigators are on their way to Afghanistan to probe the crash of an American transport plane in the east of the country which left three dead.

The seven survivors from the crash, which happened shortly after take-off from an airbase near Gardez in Paktia province, are all said to be in a stable condition.

Flags are flying at half-mast at American airbases across Afghanistan for the three people killed on the MC-130H special forces plane.

Officials are assuming that the crash was not caused by enemy action and are investigating reports of a fire aboard the aircraft.

The plane crashed near the Bande Sardeh dam, about 55 kilometres (35 miles) southwest of Gardez, at around 2130 local time (1700 GMT) on Wednesday.

Colonel Roger King, a US military spokesman, said the plane was carrying three army and seven air force personnel but added that the names of the dead would not be revealed until their families were informed.

The survivors are being treated in Kandahar for minor injuries ranging from a broken leg to cuts and bruises.

Hi-tech craft

The MC-130H is a modified version of the workhorse Hercules C-130 aircraft used by military forces of many countries.

Known as the Combat Talon, it is used for such missions as refuelling helicopters and landing commandos in hostile territory.

Us and Afghan soldiers
Afghan and Allied soldiers are still operating in Afghanistan
It is 29 metres (97 feet) long and can carry either 77 troops or up to 11,250 kilograms (25,000 pounds) of cargo.

It is designed to take off and land on short, unpaved runways and to operate by night.

This crash brings to at least 15 the number of US personnel killed in aircraft and helicopter crashes during operations in Afghanistan.

A US KC-130, a refuelling tanker version of the C-130, crashed into a mountain in Pakistan on 9 January, killing all seven US marines on board.

US forces are still hunting for al-Qaeda and Taleban fighters in Afghanistan in the wake of the 11 September terror attacks on the United States.

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The BBC's Lisa Hampele
"It's not the first time aircraft have been lost"

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19 May 02 | South Asia
18 May 02 | South Asia
14 Apr 02 | South Asia
20 Oct 01 | Americas
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