Wednesday January 9 3:39 PM ET
U.S. Plane Crashes in Pakistan
By ROBERT BURNS, AP Military Writer
WASHINGTON (AP) - A U.S. military plane carrying at least seven Marines crashed into a mountain in Pakistan Wednesday night.
A search-and-rescue mission was launched with no word on possible survivors.
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said he understood the plane was carrying passengers in addition to the crew of seven, but he had no further details.
Witnesses reported seeing flames shooting from the plane before it slammed into the mountain.
In a brief statement, U.S. Central Command said from its Tampa, Fla., headquarters that the names of the service members were being withheld until their relatives had been informed of the crash.
Central Command, which is responsible for U.S. military operations in Pakistan and the surrounding region, said the four-engine KC-130 Hercules crashed as it was making its landing approach at a base in Shamsi in southwestern Pakistan.
The plane's flight originated in Jacobabad, Pakistan, and was making multiple stops.
In a brief exchange with reporters at the Pentagon (news - web sites), Rumsfeld said he did not know the circumstances of the crash or whether the KC-130 was on a refueling mission.
``I'm going to wait for the investigation to be completed,'' he said. ``We've got some folks heading up there now.
``It is a tough, dangerous business over there,'' he added. ``They're doing difficult things and they're doing them darned well, and it just breaks your heart.''
A journalist, Saeed Malangzai, who lives about 40 miles from the crash site, told The Associated Press the plane went down in mountains in southern Balochistan province.
``Residents saw flames from the burning plane before it crashed into the Lundi mountains,'' Malangzai said.
Pakistani troops encircled the area, he said.
White House press secretary Ari Fleischer (news - web sites) said President Bush (news - web sites) was notified of the crash.
The KC-130 is a $37 million plane routinely used by the Marine Corps for in-flight refueling of helicopters. It is also used for troop and cargo delivery, evacuation missions and special operations support. It normally carries a six-man crew of two pilots, a navigator, flight engineer, mechanic and loadmaster.
The only other fatal crash of a U.S. military aircraft during the war in Afghanistan (news - web sites), which began Oct. 7, was an Army Black Hawk helicopter that crashed in Pakistan on Oct. 19, killing two Army Rangers. http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/ap/20020109/wl/us_military_crash.html