4 Rescued And 2 Dead In Crash Of Private Russian Jet In Afghanistan, The Taliban Say

This is a locator map for Afghanistan with its capital, Kabul. (AP Photo)
This is a locator map for Afghanistan with its capital, Kabul. (AP Photo)

ISLAMABAD (AP) — Four people have been rescued and two died following the crash of a private Russian jet carrying six over the weekend in Afghanistan, the Taliban said on Monday.

The crash on Saturday took place in a mountainous area in Badakhshan province, some 250 kilometers (155 miles) northeast of Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul. Rescue teams were dispatched to the remote rural area that is home to only several thousand people.

On Monday, the chief Taliban spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, posted videos on X, previously known as Twitter, showing the four rescued crew members. He said they were given first aid and were being transferred from Badakhshan to Kabul. He said the four are in good health.

Local authorities in Badakhshan said the bodies of the two killed in the crash will be recovered from the site. The Taliban have not identified any of the six victims of the crash. The Taliban’s Transportation and Civil Aviation Ministry said in an online statement the plane was found in the district of Kuf Ab district, near the Aruz Koh mountain.

On Sunday, Abdul Wahid Rayan, a spokesman for the Taliban’s Information and Culture Ministry, blamed an “engine problem” for the crash, without elaborating.

In Moscow, Russian civil aviation authorities said a 1978 Dassault Falcon 10 went missing with four crew members and two passengers. The Russian-registered aircraft “stopped communicating and disappeared from radar screens,” authorities said. It described the flight as starting from Thailand’s U-Tapao–Rayong–Pattaya International Airport.

The plane had been operating as a charter ambulance flight on a route from Gaya, India, to Tashkent, Uzbekistan, and on to Zhukovsky International Airport in Moscow.

Russian officials said the plane belongs to Athletic Group LLC and a private individual. The Associated Press could not immediately reach the owners for comment.

The plane had been with a medical evacuation company based in Morocco. However, a man who answered a telephone number associated with the company Sunday said it was no longer in business and the aircraft now belonged to someone else.

International carriers have largely avoided Afghanistan since the Taliban’s 2021 takeover of the country. Those that briefly fly over rush through Afghan airspace while over the sparsely populated Wakhan Corridor in Badakhshan province, a narrow panhandle that juts out of the east of the country between Tajikistan and Pakistan.

Typically, aircraft heading toward the corridor make a sharp turn north around Peshawar and follow the Pakistani border before briefly entering Afghanistan. Zebak is just near the start of the Wakhan Corridor.

Though landlocked, Afghanistan’s position in central Asia means it sits along the most direct routes for those traveling from India to Europe and America. After the Taliban came to power, civil aviation simply stopped, as ground controllers no longer managed the airspace.

While nations have slowly eased those restrictions, fears persist about flying through the country. Two Emirati carriers recently resumed commercial flights to Kabul.