BAGRAM AIR BASE, Afghanistan, July 27, 2006 – Coalition forces from Combined Joint Task Force 76 responded to a helicopter crash that killed at least a dozen people yesterday in the rugged mountains of Afghanistan's Paktia province, military officials here reported. A Russian-made Mi 8 helicopter, owned by the Afghan government, crashed in the Qalandar Mountains near the Khost border. Initial reports indicate between 12 and 16 people were killed, officials said.
A logistics company ferrying supplies and fuel from Kabul to Khost airport operated the helicopter. The coalition first sent an aviation search-and-rescue team to find the crash and offer recovery assistance, but extreme weather conditions prevented the crew from landing. A ground-force quick-reaction team then hiked up the mountain, led by an Afghan guide.
"We made every effort to quickly reach the downed aircraft with hopes of saving some or all of the passengers and crew," said Major General Benjamin C. Freakley, CJTF 76 commander. "Unfortunately, there were no survivors. Our condolences go out to the friends and families of the victims."
Reports from the crash site indicate the remains of 12 people have been recovered. Afghan and coalition forces continue recovery operations for any additional people, officials said. A local Afghan National Army unit provided security at the crash site last night and helped with recovery operations this morning.
NATO's International Security Assistance Force headquarters in the Afghan capital of Kabul confirmed two ISAF troops traveling to a security coordination meeting were on board the aircraft, and that ISAF has mobilized assets for the recovery effort.