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Sat, Feb 05, 2005

Afghan Kam Air 737 Down Near Kabul

104 Souls On Board, Aircraft Missing In Snow Storm, Search Called Off

A Kam Air 737 on a flight from Herat in western Afghanistan to the country's capital, Kabul, is presumed to be missing after residents of the capital reported hearing a loud explosion during a snowstorm, about the same time that the aircraft went missing.

The search has been called off due to bad weather, but will continue as soon as the storm clears.

"Since this morning we have begun a search and rescue operation in the area," Afghanistan's transport minister Enayatullah Qasemi told CNN at a news conference. "The last time that we have been told that the aircraft was seen on radar was about 3.1 miles east of Kabul."

The president of Kam Air, Zimarai Kamgar, stated that there were eight crew members on the aircraft. Six of them were Russians and the other two were Afghan nationals. There were also 96 pax on board, including seven foreigners.

Management Sciences for Health, a company in Cambridge (MA) has confirmed that three women employed by the company were passengers on the aircraft. A Dutch engineering company has also stated that one of their employees was also on the flight.

Kam Air opened for business in November 2003 as Afghanistan only private airline. Its aircraft are leased, and fly routes between Kabul, Dubai and Istanbul, as well as a number of domestic routes.

Update: Several sources have confirmed Afghan and NATO rescue teams resumed their search on Saturday morning (local time), and have found the wreck of the Kam Air 737-200. Unfortunately, no survivors have been found. There are unconfirmed reports the pilot's last communication was a request to land in Pakistan, but Pakistani air traffic control authorities deny they had any radio contact with the doomed aircraft. The airport in Kabul is notorious for its difficult approaches during winter due to high terrain surrounding it, and a lack of advanced instrument approach technology.



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