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Toll in DR Congo plane crash much lower than feared: police

05 march 2013, 17:30
0
Fears of a major disaster were allayed late Monday when police said they found just five bodies near the wreckage of a plane that crashed into a residential area of Goma in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, AFP reports.

Three survivors were taken from the wreckage before police suspended their search as night fell. Officials had earlier said dozens might have perished in the crash.

An airport source said the plane, a Fokker 50, was carrying nine people including three crew. Earlier reports had quoted police and the governor of North Kivu province, which has Goma as its capital, as saying 30 to 50 people had died.

With a statement due to be issued by the transport ministry, governor Julien Paluku and all other officials refused to comment further.

The aircraft, belonging to the local CAA company, was coming from the central mining town of Lodja and went down just before landing at Goma airport, police sources said.

The accident took place during heavy rainfall. The plane ended up some seven kilometres (four miles) from the airport runway.

"We don't yet know the number of victims because we're still looking to get the (passenger) manifest from Lodja. But we estimate there could be between 30 and 50 deaths," Paluku told AFP earlier.

Aircraft accidents are frequent in the vast DR Congo, where many planes are old and airports lack modern equipment. All of the country's roughly 50 airlines are on the blacklist of the European Union, which has banned them from its airspace.

In February 2012, a close aide to DR Congo President Joseph Kabila was killed when his plane overshot the runway at Bukavu airport in the country's east.

In July 2011 a Hewa Bora Airways Boeing 727 crashed in Kisangani in the northeast killing at least 80 people, with dozens injured. An enquiry blamed pilot's error, control tower error and too many passengers.

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