By MARTHA RADDATZ (@martharaddatz) Aug. 6, 2011
A helicopter crash in Afghanistan killed 31 Americans, including as many as 25 Navy SEALs in one of the worst single-day U.S. losses of life since the war began, a senior military official told ABC News early this morning.
A total of 38 people were on board the Chinook helicopter when it crashed overnight in the eastern Afghan province of Wardak.
Initial reports indicate up to 25 Navy SEALs were on the aircraft at the time.
It was also carrying seven Afghan Special Forces troops, one interpreter, five member helicopter crew and one dog.
Troops were apparently involved in a raid at the time.
A US Marine tries to take cover, perched on a container, trying to shelter from the dust as a Chinook helicopter arrives to pick up supplies at Forward Operating Base Edi in the Helmand Province of southern Afghanistan,
"We are aware of an incident involving a helicopter in eastern Afghanistan," U.S. Air Force Capt. Justin Brockhoff, a NATO spokesman, told the Associated Press. "We are in the process of accessing the facts."
Although the Taliban have claimed to have shot the helicopter down, the cause of the crash is still under investigation.
Saturday's deaths bring the total number of coalition troops killed in Afghanistan to 334 this year, according to the Associated Press.
The last worst one-day U.S. causality record in Afghanistan was on June 28, 2005 when 16 U.S. soldiers were killed in Kunar province after a helicopter was shot down by Taliban insurgents.
Afghan President Karzai's office released a statement on the incident.
"A NATO helicopter crashed last night in Wardak province," Karzai said in the statement. "President Karzai expressed his deep condolences because of this incident and expressed his sympathy to Barack Obama."