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Last Updated: Saturday, 5 February, 2005, 11:54 GMT
Afghan airliner wreckage located
Passengers waiting to board a plane at Kabul international airport
Flights out of Kabul have been suspended due to snow
The wreckage of an Afghan airliner which disappeared on Thursday has been found in mountains east of the capital, Kabul, Afghan officials say.

It was not known whether there were survivors among the 104 people on board. If they are confirmed dead, it will be Afghanistan's worst air crash.

The Kam Air Boeing 737 flight from Herat to Kabul vanished amid heavy snowstorms on Thursday afternoon.

It disappeared from radar screens as it was nearing Kabul airport.

There were a number of foreigners on the flight, including nine Turkish nationals, three American aid workers and an Italian naval commander.

The eight crew included four Russians and two Afghans, a spokesman for Kam Air said.

Forbidding height

Afghan officials said the missing plane was spotted by a Nato helicopter crew in high, snow-covered mountains near a village about 20km (12 miles) south-east of Kabul.

"The wreckage of the plane was found near Band-e Ghazi," Gen Amiri, a senior Afghan commander, told The Associated Press news agency.

"It is in high mountains, full of snow. My forces are at the foot of the mountain and we're trying to get a helicopter in there," Gen Amiri said.

A fleet of ambulances has been dispatched from Kabul but a spokesman for the Afghan interior ministry said all passengers were feared dead.

The plan is to try and get the ground teams in there
Maj Karen Tissot Van Patot
Nato spokeswoman

What is not clear at this stage is how difficult it will be for search and rescue teams to ascertain whether anyone is alive and to recover the flight recorders to find out what went wrong, says the BBC's Paul Anderson in Islamabad.

"The plan is to try and get the ground teams in there," said Maj Karen Tissot Van Patot, a Nato spokeswoman.

"But it is very cold."

Kam Air is Afghanistan's only private airline. It was set up last year and flies national and regional routes.

There has been no indication from foreign forces in Afghanistan or from Afghan sources that the plane was hijacked, that it was brought down in an explosion or that it was experiencing technical problems.

Last November, a transport plane being used by US forces crashed in central Bamiyan province, killing three American soldiers and three American civilian crew.

In March 1998, an Ariana Airlines Boeing 727 slammed into a mountain near Kabul, killing all 45 passengers and crew.

Latest footage of the crash recovery effort

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Country profile: Afghanistan
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