Jet that grazed U.S. tanker plane in Kyrgyzstan, causing fire, serves Kyrgyz president

A Kyrgyz passenger jet that grazed a U.S. military tanker plane at the capital's airport, setting it ablaze, was the same plane that serves the country's president and prime minister, the transport minister said Wednesday.

Nobody was injured in Tuesday's accident at Manas airport, in which the Kyrgyz Airlines Tu-154 grazed a U.S. KC-135 tanker plane that had just landed and was taxiing, said Transport Minister Nurlan Sulaimanov.

The United States has a military base at the airport, focusing on support and refueling for U.S. troops and planes in Afghanistan.

"Because of the uneven surface of the runway and darkness, the Tu-154 could not see the KC-135," Sulaimanov said, reports AP.

The Tu-154 was heading down the runway to take off for a commercial flight to Osh when the accident happened, and was forced to make an emergency landing shortly after due to wing damage, Sulaimanov said. The fire destroyed one of the American aircraft's engine and part of the left wing, he said.

The Kyrgyz plane involved is the airline's largest. In between regular flights it serves President Kurmanbek Bakiyev and Prime Minister Felix Kulov, Sulaimanov said.

The U.S. base said in a brief statement Tuesday that a KC-135 tanker plane caught fire at Manas, but its crew of three got out safely and nobody was injured. It gave no other details. No injuries were reported on the Kyrgyz plane.

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