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Refueling airplane's wreckage scattered across hillside in Kyrgyzstan

Vladimir Voronin / AP

Wreckage from a U.S. Air Force KC-135 tanker aircraft is strewn across a field near the village of Chaldovar, about 100 miles west of the Kyrgyz capital Bishkek on Friday. The emergencies ministry in Kyrgyzstan says a US military plane has crashed in the country. Kyrgyzstan hosts a US base that is used for troops going into and out of Afghanistan and for KC-135 tanker planes that refuel warplanes in flight.

Vladimir Voronin / AP

Wreckage from a U.S. Air Force KC-135 tanker aircraft is strewn across a field near the village of Chaldovar.

Sabyr Alichiev / Pool via Reuters

The wreckage of the Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker plane is seen at the site of the crash near the Kyrgyz village of Chaldovar. A U.S. military refuelling plane on its way to Afghanistan exploded in mid air and crashed in Kyrgyzstan on Friday when its cargo of fuel ignited, the Central Asian country's Emergencies Ministry said. The aircraft took off from the U.S. military transit centre at Kyrgyzstan's international Manas airport, which U.S. forces maintain for operations in Afghanistan, with around 70 tons of fuel on board, a local ministry official said.

Jim Miklaszewski and Erin McClam of NBC News report:

Military officials were investigating eyewitness reports that the plane was on fire before it crashed. They were also looking into the possibility that the plane blew an engine or struck a bird.

“I was working with my father in the field, and I heard an explosion. When I looked up at the sky I saw the fire. When it was falling, the plane split into three pieces,” Sherikbek Turusbekov, who lives nearby, told The Associated Press.

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