2 bodies found at crash site of U.S. plane in Kyrgyzstan

Smoldering wreckage from a U.S. Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft was strewn across a field near the village of Chaldovar, Kyrgyzstan, about 100 miles west of the capital of Bishkek on Friday.

MOSCOW — Two bodies were found in the wreckage of an American tanker airplane that crashed soon after takeoff in the Central Asian country of Kyrgyzstan on Friday, authorities said Saturday.

Kyrgyz firefighters found the bodies after putting out a fire at the crash site, said a government spokeswoman, Nurzada Toktogulova.

The plane, a KC-135 Stratotanker that was used for midair refueling over Afghanistan, typically carries a crew of three, though it was not clear how many were aboard Friday or if all were United States service members. The plane crashed in a hilly area near the town of Kara-Balta a few minutes after takeoff.

The Air Force unit based at Manas, Kyrgyzstan, the 376th Air Expeditionary Wing, released a statement Friday night saying that the status of the crew was unknown and that the cause of the crash was under investigation.

It did not say how many people had been aboard, and an American military spokesman declined to clarify.

AKI Press, a Kyrgyz news agency, cited witnesses as saying that the airplane broke into three parts in the air. They reported hearing an explosion.

Reports published in Kyrgyz news media Friday said that an open parachute had been found at the site, with nobody attached to it, but those reports were not confirmed by the government emergency officials at the site, Toktogulova said.