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Indian peacekeepers save air passengers in Congo

A rescue team of sixth battalion of the Sikh Light Infantry rescues several injured passengers after a plane crashed at the North Kivu province in Congo.
PTI | By HT Correspondent, New Delhi
UPDATED ON APR 18, 2008 12:38 PM IST

Moving in swiftly, Indian peacekeepers in Congo rescued several injured passengers after a plane crashed in the North Kivu province of the African nation on Tuesday.

A rescue team of sixth battalion of the Sikh Light Infantry, led by Commanding Officer Col S A Sharma, rushed along with all available officers and troops of the unit to the location and rescued six persons and evacuated them to the military hospital, a Defence Ministry spokesman said.

Most of the 79 passengers aboard the Congolese-run DC-9 jet survived when it careered off the runway as it tried to take off. It rammed into a crowded market, flattening shops and killing 40 people. More than 110 were wounded.

The Army personnel also helped in controlling the crowd, preventing loot of the houses and stopping them from setting shops on fire.

Medical teams and fire fighting resources of the North Kivu Brigade rushed to the site to douse the flames. The Indian peacekeepers brought the blaze under control and prevented it from spreading to the nearby houses in the thickly populated Birere market area.

The Indian Army personnel along with the Red Cross managed to rescue six survivors and retrieve 18 bodies from the crash site.

Lt Col K S Mathur fought the raging fire and managed to retrieve the flight recorder of the aircraft from its tail end.
The police and civil administration in the North Kivu province is practically out of operation due to the raging war between the government of Congo and the opposition.

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