KABUL, Afghanistan – Five charred bodies were recovered from the wreckage of a cargo plane Wednesday that slammed into a mountaintop east of Afghanistan's capital Kabul with eight people aboard.
Searchers scoured the blackened site high up the mountainside for three other crew members missing and feared dead, said police Gen. Zulmayi Horya Khail.
The plane went down east of the capital shortly after take-off from Bagram Air Field, the main U.S. military base in Afghanistan, at about 8 p.m. (1530 GMT) Tuesday. The cause of the crash wasn't immediately known. Weather conditions were clear at the time.
An Associated Press photographer near the scene saw wreckage ablaze on the mountainside Tuesday night.
Hundreds of Afghan security forces in fatigues carrying M-16 rifles gathered at the bottom of the mountain Wednesday. Smoke could be seen rising from the scattered wreckage several hundred yards (meters) straight up.
"Today our forces are working to secure the site and we are waiting for the further orders from the Afghan defense ministry to move to the next step," said Afghan National Army commander Col. Abdul Malik.
Kabul Airport Director Mohammad Yaqub Rassuli said the aircraft was carrying supplies for NATO forces. He said all eight crew members were believed dead.
The plane owned by United Arab Emirates-based TransAfrik was under contract by the U.S.-based company National Air Cargo.
"The company has confirmed that a TransAfrik L-100 aircraft flying from Bagram to Kabul went down shortly before 8 p.m.," National Air Cargo said in a statement. "Our thoughts and prayers go out to the crew and their families."
The L-100 Hercules aircraft is the civilian equivalent of a military C-130 plane.
NATO said in a statement the crash occurred about 16 miles (30 kilometers) east of the Kabul International Airport.
In May, a passenger plane operated by Pamir Airways, a private Afghan airline, crashed while traveling from Kunduz in northern Afghanistan to the capital. All 44 passengers on the plane died.
Associated Press photographer Gemunu Amarasinghe and cameraman Ahmad Seir contributed to this report.