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UK hunts Hercules crash clues

The UK Ministry of Defence has yet to disclose the cause of a Lockheed Martin C-130K Hercules transport aircraft crash that killed nine Royal Air Force personnel and one British Army soldier in Iraq on 30 January. The 49 Squadron-operated aircraft was lost en route to Balad airbase after leaving Baghdad International airport on a routine sortie, it says.

An investigation has now been completed at the crash site around 30km (18 miles) north west of Baghdad, says the MoD, which declines to comment on the team's initial findings. "A thorough and extensive search of the crash site has taken place [and] we are continuing to investigate the full circumstances," it says. "We are satisfied that in the operational circumstances as thorough a search as possible has been conducted."

The MoD refuses to respond to Iraqi insurgent group claims that the transport was shot down, pending the outcome of its investigation. Flight International understands that the UK's C-130Kfleet has not been placed under any operational restrictions as a result of the accident - the first major incident involving the type in RAF service since 1999.

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