At least 17 people killed in Congo plane crash | india | Hindustan Times
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At least 17 people killed in Congo plane crash

The Antonov An-28 carrying 14 passengers and three Ukrainian crew members went down, as it approached the airport at Bukavu.

india Updated: Aug 04, 2006 14:17 IST

A small passenger plane crashed into a mountain and then tumbled into a valley in eastern Congo, killing all 17 passengers and crew, officials said on Friday.

The Antonov An-28 carrying 14 passengers and three Ukrainian crew members went down on Thursday afternoon as it approached the airport at Bukavu, in hilly eastern Congo, said Georges Matutu, a Bukavu civil aviation official.

Matutu said the cause of the accident wasn't known, but high winds were reported in the area. "The plane tried to correct its position relative to the airport, but it hit a mountain, caught fire and went down," he said.

Matutu said rescue crews had reached the burned wreckage in a valley about 50 kilometres north of Bukavu and found 12 bodies, including one child.

But a spokesman for the 17,600-member UN peacekeeping force in Congo, Jean-Tobie Okala, said there were no survivors. No UN staff were among the victims, he said.

The plane was owned by a Congolese company, Trasept Congo, Matutu said.

Air passengers often rely on old and poorly maintained aircraft to travel around Congo, a war-wrecked nation the size of Western Europe with only about 600 miles of paved roads.

The European Union has banned almost all of Congo's dozens of airlines from flying to European airspace.

Planes, which also often transport goods in the hold, may have little more than plastic chairs for passengers to sit on.

On July 8, an Antonov cargo plane crashed in the mountains of eastern Congo, killing three Russian pilots and two Congolese passengers.