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A U.S. servicemember has been listed as missing in action in Afghanistan after the Humvee in which he was riding started to slide off an embankment and plunged him into a river below, officials said —Tuesday.

The incident occurred Saturday when the unnamed unit was traveling along the Pech River west of Asadabad. The servicemember has not been identified.

“We are doing everything we can to find our missing comrade. No effort is being spared in our attempts to find this individual,” Army Lt. Col. Jerry O’Hara, a Combined Joint Task Force-76 spokesman in Afghanistan said.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the men and women conducting these rescue efforts and for the family of the missing individual.”

A search for the servicemember was ongoing as of Tuesday, with aircraft helping searchers on the ground.

According to O’Hara, the vehicle was traveling along the Pech River, which was swollen by a large amount of snowmelt. The road under the cargo Humvee began to give way and the servicemember and other members of his squad in the back tried to get out.

The other occupants got out of the Humvee before the road collapsed, but “the missing servicemember is believed to have fallen into the river in his effort to escape the vehicle.”

Currents in the river were running at 20 to 25 mph when the incident occurred, military officials said. The water temperature was 50 degrees. Swollen rivers and waterways have been a problem in other parts of Afghanistan, including Lagham Province, where U.S. and Afghan soldiers airlifted hundreds of people stranded along a flooded river last week.

In recent weeks, U.S. and Afghan forces have repeatedly fought insurgents in sometimes-pitched battles. In a Monday interview with Stripes, the deputy commander of CJTF-76 said the clashes were the result of more pressure being applied by U.S. forces.

With soldiers from the Southern European Task Force (Airborne) from Vicenza, Italy, now leading the mission, “we certainly had a plan to go more in areas that had not been visited by coalition forces for a while,” Brig. Gen. James Champoin said.

“All of us know that the bad guys go to places that we are not.”

There are some 20,000 U.S.-led troops in Afghanistan conducting reconstruction projects and searching for Taliban and al-Qaida fighters.


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