May 17th, 2010
07:57 AM ET

Plane reported missing has crashed, Afghan government say

[Updated at 7:56 a.m.] A plane that was reported missing with 44 people on board has crashed in Afghanistan, Interior Ministry spokesman Zemarai Basharay said Monday.

[Posted at 6:18 a.m.] A plane disappeared in Afghanistan on Monday with 38 passengers and six crew aboard, a government official told CNN.

The plane was en route from Kunduz to Kabul, said Raz Mohammad Alami of the Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation.

A meteorological agency reported hearing a huge sound in the Salang Pass. The minister of transport and aviation and his deputy are en route there to investigate.

The NATO-led International Security Assistance Force has sent out a plane to assist in the search for the aircraft, said spokesman Col. Wayne Shanks. However, the search has been hampered by rain and adverse weather conditions, he said.

"A manned ISAF fixed-wing aircraft has been dispatched to the last known position of the missing plane," ISAF said in a statement. In addition, two ISAF helicopters were en route to the area, and others were on standby at Bagram Airfield and Kabul International Airport.

While several plane crashes have occurred in Afghanistan in the past few years - most of them military aircraft - the last crash with fatalities occurred in September 2006, when a British Royal Air Force plane crashed about 20 km (12.5 miles) west of Kandahar, according to the website of the Aviation Safety Network, which maintains a database of crashes. Fourteen people were killed in that crash.

In 2005, 104 people were killed when Kam Air flight 904 struck a mountain while approaching Kabul in poor visibility, according to the network.

- CNN's Atia Abawi and Journalist Matiullah Mati contributed to this report.

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