Briton feared dead after Afghan plane crash

Three British nationals were feared dead today after a passenger plane crashed in a mountainous area of northern Afghanistan.

Chris Carter, David Taylor and Daniel Saville were among more than 40 people on board the Pamir Airways flight en route from the northern city of Kunduz to Kabul when it came down in the Hindu Kush range yesterday.

The names of the six foreign nationals on board, including the three Britons, were revealed by the airline.

A spokeswoman for the British embassy in Kabul said: "I can confirm that three British nationals were on board."

A Foreign Office spokeswoman said: "We believe three British nationals were on board the Parmir Airways flight en route from Kunduz to Kabul that has reportedly crashed in Afghanistan.

"Next of kin have been informed and we are providing consular assistance."

The airline said one of the six foreigners was a woman.

A State Department official in Washington also confirmed that an American citizen was on board.

Afghan authorities initially thought the plane went down near the 12,700ft Salang Pass, around 60 miles north of Kabul.

Nato said it sent a search plane to within four miles of the area, but the US aircraft had to turn back due to dense fog and rescuers were forced to look for the wreckage on foot.

However, officials now believe the plane may have gone down closer to Kabul, possibly crashing about 12 miles out, in the Ghorband district of Parwan province.

Other helicopters were on standby at Bagram airfield and Kabul airport to assist in any rescue effort.

Deputy transportation minister Raz Mohammad Alami said the plane was carrying 44 people, including six foreigners and six crew members.

But the airline said there were 38 passengers and four crew.

Pamir Airways is a private Afghan airline based in Kabul with daily flights to major Afghan cities, as well as services to Dubai, Delhi in India, and to Saudi Arabia for the Hajj pilgrimage.

The airline uses Antonov An-24 aircraft on all its Kunduz-to-Kabul flights, according to its website.

The medium-range twin-turboprop civil aircraft was built in the former Soviet Union from 1950 to 1978.

A modernised version is still being made in China.

The plane is widely used by airlines in the developing world due to ease of maintenance and low operating costs.

It is believed the aircraft involved in this incident took its maiden flight in 1972.

A total of 143 such planes have been lost in various incidents, according to the Aviation Safety Network, with 16.6% of all occupants surviving otherwise fatal crashes.

The Ministry of Defence confirmed there were no British military personnel on board.