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Body of third American found at site of Kyrgyzstan crash

May 04, 2013|By Sergei L. Loiko
  • Locals watch the smoldering wreckage at the site of the U.S. KC-135 tanker aircraft crash near Chaldovar, Kyrgyzstan on Friday.
Locals watch the smoldering wreckage at the site of the U.S. KC-135 tanker… (Igor Kovalenko / European…)

MOSCOW -- Recovery teams have found the body of the third American crew member at the site of a plane crash in Kyrgyzstan, the television network Russia-24 reported Saturday.

The remains of the plane's two other crew members were found Saturday morning. All three reportedly were U.S. citizens.

“Rescue workers in the field are still looking for black boxes [flight recorders] which can help explain what happened to the plane,” Abisharip Bekilov, spokesman for the Kyrgyzstan Emergency Ministry, said in a phone interview earlier in the day. He spoke from Bishkek, the capital of the former Soviet country in Central Asia.

The U.S. Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker crashed in a highland gorge 40 miles west of Bishkek on Friday shortly after its takeoff from the Manas air base. The refueling plane was heading to Afghanistan, where it was used to fuel coalition planes in flight.

Russia-24 ran images of rescuers and search parties on foot and horseback inspecting the smoking debris of the plane scattered for about a mile across green, grassy foothills. Witnesses told the Emergency Ministry that they saw the burning plane breaking up in midair before it fell to the ground.

The Manas air base was built in Bishkek in 2001 as a key installation to aid U.S. combat operations in Afghanistan. The lease for the base expires in 2014 and will not be renewed, Kyrgyzstan President Almazbek Atambayev said last year.

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