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Iraq Transition

UK troops killed in Iraq crash

RAF Wing Commander Nigel Arnold confirmed the crash, but gave no further details.
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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Up to 15 British troops have been killed in the crash of a transport plane in Iraq, according to the UK Press Association.

The British Royal Air Force C-130 Hercules crashed north of Baghdad on Sunday.

British authorities have declined to provide details of casualties until the next-of-kin have been notified.

The Press Association, citing military sources, said "around 10" people died and that the final toll was "highly unlikely" to exceed 15.

U.S. military officials said the crash took place about 25 miles north of Baghdad, near Balad. They said widespread wreckage was visible and search-and-rescue operations by helicopters and U.S. ground forces were under way.

In a brief statement, a British Ministry of Defence spokesman confirmed the C- 130 crashed in northern Iraq at 5.25 p.m. local time Sunday (2.25 p.m. GMT, 9.25 a.m. ET).

RAF Wing Commander Nigel Arnold said authorities were still in the process of notifying the families.

"It would be wrong to speculate on the cause of the crash. We can assure you that a complete investigation will take place. We can make no further comment," he said.

In a televised statement, British Prime Minister Tony Blair said there had been "a tragic loss of lives" and expressed condolences to the families of the victims.

Blair said British troops are "doing an extraordinary job on behalf of their country."

He added, "Yet again today, we see the sacrifice that they made. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of those who lost their lives earlier today. They can be so proud of what their loved ones accomplished. This country and the wider world will never forget them."

It was not clear how many people were on the plane when air traffic controllers lost contact with the plane, but some models can carry six crew members and 128 passengers.

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