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36 feared killed in plane crash

UN official aboard Uzbekistan flight

TASHKENT, Uzbekistan -- A domestic airliner crashed yesterday on approach to the airport in Uzbekistan's capital, the Interior Ministry said. At least 36 people, including the top UN official for Uzbekistan, were aboard, and no survivors were reported.

The plane was an Uzbekistan Airways Yakovlev-40 en route from Termez, in the country's far south along the Afghanistan border, said an Interior Ministry duty officer who declined to give his name. He gave no further details.

An Uzbekistan Airways official in Moscow, Eduard Mirzoyan, was quoted by the news agency Interfax as saying 36 people were aboard. One airport employee, who declined to give his name, said 32 passengers and five crew members were aboard the plane. He said no one was believed to have survived.

Richard Conroy, the senior United Nations official for Uzbekistan, was aboard the flight, said Bill Orme, spokesman for the UN Development Program. It wasn't known whether Conroy, a 56-year-old British-Australian citizen, had died.

"We can confirm that he was on the plane," Orme said. "We are not aware of any other UN officials being on that flight."

Termez became a major hub for humanitarian aid into northern Afghanistan after the fall of the Taliban in late 2001, and aid workers and other foreigners commonly fly on flights between that city and the Uzbek capital. German troops have also been using the airport in Termez as a support base for peacekeeping troops in Afghanistan.

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