(MOSCOW) — A U.S. military plane crashed in Kyrgyzstan on Friday, shortly after taking off from the Manas Transit Center.
The aircraft was a KC-135, a refueling tanker based on the Boeing 707. It is not immediately clear how many passengers were on board, but such tankers usually carry only a handful of crew members.
Col. Dzhambulbek Dzumagolov, the head of the rescue mission, told ABC News he believes there were no survivors, but added that they have not yet recovered any remains.
The Air Force issued a statement confirming the crash, saying “the status of the crew is unknown” and adding that the cause remains under investigation. The Air Force said the crew and plane were based at Manas.
The plane went down about 2:30 p.m. near the village of Chaldovar, less than 100 miles from the capital of Bishkek and near the border with Kazakhstan, according to a spokesman for the Kyrgyz Emergency Situations Ministry.
Witnesses told Russia’s state-owned news agency RIA Novosti they heard a big boom in the sky and that the plane broke into several parts. Debris has been found over a large area.
“Everything around is burning,” a witness told RIA Novosti.
Two teams of 17 rescue workers have been able to reach the crash site, the ministry said, which is located in a mountainous area. Helicopters are also searching from the sky. The ministry has requested that additional rescuers be sent to the scene.
Russia’s Interfax news agency, quoting local media, reports that a wing from the plane landed on or near a house belonging to a shepherd. According to the report, there are no reports yet of injuries on the ground.
The Manas Transit Center is the primary hub for troops and equipment coming in and out of Afghanistan.
The Kyrgyz government has set up a committee to investigate the cause of the crash.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
Greg Botelho and Euan McKirdy, CNN
Junko Ogura, Madison Park, Yoko Wakatsuki and Ray Sanchez, CNN Newswire