AN Air Europa jet supposed to bring some of the last remaining troops home to Spain and carry back the national flag, was delayed for 14 hours in Turkey because of a faulty fuel filter.
The plane travelling to Herat carrying Vice President Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría, 30 journalists and top military staff, landed in Tekirdag Corlu to refuel. After an hour on the tarmac, the jet’s captain announced to passengers on Saturday morning that he would not be able to continue the journey to Afghanistan. A replacement aircraft arrived 14 hours later.
Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría was required to go to Afghanistan after the Minister for Defence, Pedro Morenés, had travelled to the Canaries after Thursday’s reports of the helicopter crash in the Atlantic. For 88 out of the 200 army troops stationed on Afghan soil, this marked the end of a six-month tour of duty. The remaining Spanish troops in Herat will fly home on Tuesday, the end of 14 years in military service since January 26, 2002.
One hundred and two Spanish soldiers out of the 30,000 that served in Afghanistan have lost their lives.