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Rescuers try to reach downed helicopter

Aircraft carried about 16 troops over Afghanistan, officials say

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The MH-47 is the special operations version of the U.S. Army's Chinook transport helicopter.

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(CNN) -- Rescuers were battling darkness to reach eastern Afghanistan's Hindu Kush mountains, where a U.S. military helicopter carrying more than a dozen troops went down Tuesday.

The area west of Asadabad, near the Pakistan border, is known for having snow-covered peaks rising as high as 7,000 feet.

The doomed MH-47, a variant of the Army's twin-rotor Chinook transport used by special operations troops, was carrying about 16 military personnel onboard, U.S. military officials said.

Military sources tell CNN an emergency beacon went off when the aircraft went down.

The mission was to bring in reinforcements "in support of U.S. forces currently conducting counter-terrorism operations," the Coalition Press Information Center of the Combined Forces Command in Kabul said in a written statement.

Army and Marine forces have been operating in the area, fighting insurgents believed to be crossing in and out of Pakistan.

Neither the cause of the crash nor the condition of those aboard were known late Tuesday. The military has not released any identities of the members onboard.

"U.S. fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters are currently providing close air support to the forces on the ground," the press center said.

In April, 16 people -- 13 U.S. troops and three military contractors -- were killed when a CH-47 Chinook crashed near Ghazni, 80 miles [128 kilometers] southwest of Kabul. It was returning to Bagram Air Base near the capital. (Full story)

A number of U.S. and coalition troops have died in helicopter crashes since the war began in October 2001.

  • One U.S. airman died of injuries he received when an Air Force HH-60 Pave Hawk combat search and rescue helicopter accidentally crashed during a medical evacuation mission 105 miles (170 kilometers) east of Shindand, Afghanistan, on October 21, 2004.
  • One U.S. soldier was killed when a helicopter carrying 15 soldiers and Marines developed mechanical problems and crashed in the eastern Afghan province of Khost, on August 12, 2004.
  • Five U.S. airmen were killed in the accidental crash of a MH-53M Pave Low special operations helicopter east of Bagram Air Base on November 23, 2003.
  • Six Air Force rescue team members died when an Air Force HH-60 Pave Hawk combat search and rescue helicopter crashed while on the way to help two injured Afghan children on March 23, 2003.
  • Four soldiers with the U.S. Army's elite 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment died when a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter crashed near Bagram Air Base on January 30, 2003.
  • Seven German soldiers died when a German CH-53 Super Stallion helicopter accidentally crashed near Kabul, Afghanistan, on December 21, 2002.
  • Seven U.S. soldiers were killed when two U.S. MH-47 Chinook helicopters came under heavy fire on March 4, 2002, during Operation Anaconda, the largest coalition offensive of the war.
  • Two Marines were killed when a CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter crashed while on a resupply mission in Afghanistan on January 20, 2002.
  • Two U.S. Army Rangers died when a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter crashed in Pakistan on October 19, 2001.
  • CNN's Barbara Starr and Mike Mount contributed to this report.

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