The bodies of 2 US crew members was found at a crash site in Kyrgyzstan after a military refueling plane went down in an area of rugged mountains.
Search teams found the 2 bodies on Saturday in a region of Kyrgyzstan that supports US military operations in Afghanistan. The KC-135 plane crashed on Friday afternoon, about 100 miles west of the US base.
It wasn’t yet known what caused the crash.
“It could be because of the fuel, because of the engine, the weather conditions or the human factor,” said Kuvan Mamakeev, the Kyrgyz state prosecutor who investigated accidents and crashes.
While the 2 bodies were found at the crash site, a third crew member remained missing. There were dozens of military personnel searching the area on Saturday, with the crash site being roped off for safety.
Authorities said the crash sent pieces of the plane scattered across a wide area, and the bodies found so far had been fragmented. The tail came down in a grassy valley, while other parts landed on parts of the mountain not easily accessed by search crews.
“I heard a very loud explosion,” Emil Bokochev, a member of the village council, told a reporter from The Associated Press at the site. “Literally six or seven seconds afterward there was another explosion and the plane broke apart into four or five pieces and at that moment we thought it was going to fall on the village Chaldovar.”
The base serves an an interim point for troops entering or leaving Afghanistan, and it houses a refueling tanker for fighter jets. The US reached an agreement with the Kyrgyz government for $60 million a year, but the base has been a point of contention. The lease on the base ends in June 2014, and Kyrgyzstan is said to be against US plans to extend it.
Along with recovering the 2 bodies found at the crash site, crews also had to deal with a spill of the thousands of pounds of fuel on board.