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4 rescued, 2 dead in Russian plane crash

AT News

KABUL – Four Russians have been rescued while two lost their lives in the crash of a private Russian jet that was carrying six people over the weekend in Afghanistan. The incident occurred on Saturday in a mountainous area in Badakhshan province, approximately 250 kilometers northeast of Kabul. Rescue teams were swiftly dispatched to the remote rural location, home to only a few thousand people.

On Monday, Zabihullah Mujahid, the chief Taliban spokesman, shared videos on X (formerly Twitter) showing the four rescued crew members. He confirmed that they received first aid and were being transferred from Badakhshan to Kabul, noting that they are in good health. Local authorities in Badakhshan stated that the bodies of the two deceased individuals would be recovered from the crash site. The Taliban’s Transportation and Civil Aviation Ministry, in an online statement, disclosed that the plane was located in the district of Kuf Ab, near the Aruz Koh mountain.

Abdul Wahid Rayan, a spokesman for the Taliban’s Information and Culture Ministry, attributed the crash to an “engine problem” on Sunday, without providing further details. In Moscow, Russian civil aviation authorities revealed that a 1978 Dassault Falcon 10, with four crew members and two passengers on board, went missing. The Russian-registered aircraft lost communication and disappeared from radar screens, starting its flight from Thailand’s U-Tapao–Rayong–Pattaya International Airport.

The plane, operating as a charter ambulance flight, was en route from Gaya, India, to Tashkent, Uzbekistan, and then Zhukovsky International Airport in Moscow. Russian officials identified the aircraft as belonging to Athletic Group LLC and a private individual, with no immediate response from the owners when contacted by The Associated Press.

Previously associated with a medical evacuation company based in Morocco, the man answering a telephone number linked to the company stated that it was no longer in business, and the aircraft had changed ownership. International carriers have largely avoided Afghanistan since the Taliban’s takeover in 2021. Those that briefly fly over the country rush through Afghan airspace over the sparsely populated Wakhan Corridor in Badakhshan province.

Typically, aircraft heading towards the corridor make a sharp turn north around Peshawar and follow the Pakistani border before briefly entering Afghanistan. Zebak is located near the start of the Wakhan Corridor. Despite being landlocked, Afghanistan’s central location in Asia positions it along the most direct routes for those traveling from India to Europe and America. Since the Taliban’s rise to power, civil aviation had ceased, but recent efforts have seen some easing of restrictions, although concerns persist about flying through the country. Two Emirati carriers have recently resumed commercial flights to Kabul.

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