TIRANA, Albania (AP) – A U.S. military airplane crashed in central Albania while on a training mission Thursday, and nine American personnel aboard were believed to have been killed, the Albanian Defense Ministry said. The Pentagon said a C-130 crashed and a search was under way.

The plane had taken off from Tirana’s Mother Teresa Airport and crashed on Driza Mountain in the district of Gramsh, 50 miles southeast of capital, Tirana, Albanian Defense Ministry spokesman Agim Doci told The Associated Press.

Doci said officials believe that the nine people aboard, all Americans, were killed.

He said the plane was taking part in joint exercises with the Albanian military.

Pentagon spokesman Jim Turner said the plane that crashed was a C-130 and that a search was under way using another aircraft in the area. Turner said he had no word on the crew’s status. There are reports that poor weather is hampering the search, he said.

NATO officials in Tirana were not immediately available for comment.

The Albanian News24 television station reported that the location of the crash was remote and hard to reach, adding that a helicopter was seen circling the area.

Residents said an explosion caused by the crashing plane felt “like an earthquake,” the station said.


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