Fatal UN plane crash at DR Congo's Kinshasa airport

Apr 04 2011

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A UN plane has crashed at Kinshasa airport in the Democratic Republic of Congo, killing at least 20 people, UN sources say.

The plane broke up when it hit the runway as the pilot was trying to land amid heavy rain at about 1300 GMT, according to witnesses.

The plane had reportedly flown from Goma via Kisangani in north-east DRC.

There has been no word so far on the cause of the incident, and the UN has yet to make an official comment.

A further 12 people were injured, a UN source told Reuters news agency.

"The plane landed heavily, broke into two and caught fire," said the source.

'Africa's world war'

A health ministry official was quoted as saying at least 20 had died after the pilot lost control of the plane - a Bombardier CRJ-300 jet - in high winds as it came in to land in the capital.

The official, Joseph Kiboko, said there were 29 passengers and three crew on board.

"We sent eight people to hospital who were still breathing, but I don't know whether they survived," he said. "Both the pilots were killed."

Twenty UN workers were listed as on board the flight.

The UN Stabilisation Mission in the DRC, Monusco - previously known as Monuc - has been operating in the country since 1999, and its mandate is due to expire at the end of June.

DR Congo has been ravaged by violence and bad governance.

An estimated 5 million people died in what was dubbed "Africa's world war" between 1998 and 2003.

The east of the country is still plagued by army and militia violence and, despite having a multitude of valuable minerals, most of its citizens are poor.

Presidential and parliamentary elections are scheduled to take place in November.

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