KHUJAND, May 20, 2010, Asia-Plus  -- Three Tajik nationals were on the plane that crashed in Afghanistan last Monday, May 17, Asia-Plus has learned from the source at the Khujand airport.

The source who wanted to remain unnamed told Asia-Plus that the plane, Antonov-24, belonged to the Afghan private air carrier, Pamir Airways.

Pamir Airways is one of three major private Afghan airlines and it operates mostly domestic routes across Afghanistan.

“Among the crew members were Aleksandr Demurov (pilot), Gulmahmad Qurbonov (flight systems operator) and Bakhtiyor Kenjayev (technician),” said the source, “All of them worked with the squadron of Tajik national air carrier, Tajik Air, which is deployed at the Khujand airport.  They were recorded as on unpaid leave and were working with Pamir Airlines on contractual basis.”

“However, there are no facts confirming that they were the crew that operated the plane that day,” added the source, “Probably, they were on the board as relief crew,” the source said.

In the meantime, the Afghan news agency Bakhtar reported that search helicopter of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) found the passenger plane’s wreckage on the Salang Pass on May 19.

Reuters reported on May 17 that the plane was en route from the northern city of Kunduz to Kabul and went missing around 8 a.m. (11:30 p.m. ET).  "I can confirm that an aircraft carrying 38 passengers plus five crew has crashed somewhere in Salang Pass," Interior Ministry spokesman Zemarai Bashary told Reuters after receiving a report from Pamir Airways.

The Salang pass lies around 100 km north of Kabul.  The cause of the crash was not immediately known, but it came amid cloudy and rainy weather in Kabul and its surrounding areas.

A deputy minister for civil aviation and transport, Raaz Mohammad Alami, told Reuters the plane was an Antonov 24 and that six of the passengers were foreigners.