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Wednesday, August 11, 1999 Published at 06:39 GMT 07:39 UK

World: Africa

Liberian police chief dies in plane crash

The plane came down just outside Monrovia

Reports from Liberia say the country's police chief, Joe Tate, and several other senior police staff have been killed in a plane crash close to the capital, Monrovia.

A government spokesman said the eight-seater plane crashed near a highway as it was trying to land after a flight from Maryland County in south-eastern Liberia.

The plane was heading for Roberts International Airport, some 40km from Monrovia.

Some reports suggest the airport had been closed and the aircraft ran out of fuel while it was trying to find a suitable place for landing.

Reporters were not allowed near the crash site. The bodies were said to be burned beyond recognition and were moved to a funeral home in Monrovia.

Correspondents say Joe Tate was a controversial figure in Liberia, accused on several occasions of human rights abuses - charges he always denied.

He was a cousin of Liberian President Charles Taylor and had been a prominent figure in national politics for years.

He was a member of President Taylor's militia during Liberia's civil war and later joined his administration.

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