DRC: 17 feared dead in plane crash near Bukavu

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

An airplane carrying humanitarian workers crashed on approach to Bukavu, the capital of Democratic Republic of Congo’s South Kivu province, on 1 September.

“We don’t yet have the official [passenger] list so we don’t know the nationality of the passengers or their organisations,” said Christophe Illemasene, spokesman for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

Illemasene said there had been 17 people, including two crew members, on board the aircraft, a Beechcraft 1900. He added that the UN Mission in the DRC (MONUC) had dispatched a helicopter to the scene early on the morning of 2 September with a search and rescue team.

“The helicopter landed far away [from the wreckage] and the search and rescue team headed to the site on foot,” he added.
The plane had flown from Kinshasa bound for Goma, the capital of North Kivu province, with stopovers scheduled in the provincial capitals of Mbandaka, Kisangani and Bukavu.

Amy Cathey of Air Serv International, the flight operator, said the accident happened on the approach to Bukavu amid bad weather.

Aviation accidents occur very frequently in DRC. For many people travelling long distances, planes are the only viable option because of the dire state of the country’s roads.