Philippines Says 10 Filipinos Died in Afghan Crash

Ten Filipino workers were among the
civilians killed in a helicopter crash at NATO's largest air base
in Afghanistan, officials said Tuesday.

All 16 people aboard the Russian-owned civilian Mi-8 helicopter
died Sunday when it slammed into the tarmac at Kandahar Air Base
shortly after takeoff.

Philippine diplomats from neighboring Pakistan have arrived in
the Afghan capital, Kabul, to help identify the bodies and
repatriate them, Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Esteban Conejos
told The Associated Press.

He said the victims' next of kin were being informed Tuesday.

The Philippines has banned its overseas workers from
Afghanistan, but many still end up employed at military bases
there.

A Filipino carpenter at Kandahar Air Base was killed in a rocket
attack in March.

The Filipinos killed Sunday had been working at the NATO base
for several years. They did not return to the Philippines because
the government had imposed a ban on travel to Afghanistan, the head
of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration, Carmelita Dimzon,
told the Philippine Star daily.

Dimzon could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

Last week, Manila airport authorities intercepted 13 workers
bound for Afghanistan. Vice President Noli de Castro said they had
been recruited illegally as carpenters, plumbers and electricians
at the Kandahar base for a monthly salary of $1,300 - about 10
times what they would make back home.

Nearly 10 percent of the country's 90 million people work abroad
- many as nurses, maids, engineers, construction workers and
seamen. Last year, overseas Filipinos sent home $16.4 billion,
equal to about 10.4 percent of the country's gross domestic
product, fueling domestic consumption that is a lynchpin of the
economy.

Apart from Afghanistan, Filipino workers are not allowed to seek
jobs in Iraq, Lebanon and Nigeria. About 6,000 were thought to be
working illegally at military bases across Iraq.


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