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Last Updated: Thursday, 4 October 2007, 20:49 GMT 21:49 UK
DR Congo plane crash 'kills many'
Rescue workers at the scene of a plane crash in Kinshasa, Congo, on Thursday
There were victims on the ground as well as in the plane
Many people are feared dead in the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo after a plane crashed into a residential area soon after take-off.

The plane landed in Kingsani, a crowded market district of Kinshasa, sending a fireball and thick smoke into the air.

A UN official in Congo told the BBC that 25 of the 27 people on board were killed, and that there were more victims on the ground.

Air accidents are frequent in DR Congo, where many airlines fly ageing planes.

According to the African Airlines Association, the country has accounted for well over half of all the air crashes in Africa over the last decade. One out of every five fatal air accidents happens in Africa.

Hundreds gather at site

The Antonov 26 cargo plane, owned by the Congolese airline Africa 1, crashed shortly after take-off from nearby Ndjili airport. It was bound for Tshikapa, in the central province of Kasai-Occidental.

It's an African city with a densely populated area there - almost a shantytown, if you wish - so we're afraid the damage might be great
Michel Bonnardeaux
UN spokesman in DRC

Papy Kangufu, a local resident, said the area had been full of people when the plane ploughed into it, sending a fireball into the air.

Several homes were destroyed in the crash, which happened at about 1030 (0930 GMT). One wing is the largest part of the aeroplane which remains.

The BBC's Emery Agalu Makumeno at the crash site said firefighters were battling to put out the fire from the fuselage, and hundreds of local people were at the scene.

Residents were trying to help the rescue teams retrieve remains from the aircraft, and paramedics and Red Cross workers were trying to get injured people to hospital.

There is confusion about the death toll. The state aviation safety body RVA (Regie Voies Aeriennes) has confirmed 19 deaths.


But a United Nations spokesman in DRC, Michel Bonnardeaux, told the BBC he had heard from local police sources that there were 27 people on board, and that two had survived - an air hostess and a mechanic.

"What we don't have is how many people were injured or dead on the ground. It's an African city with a densely populated area there - almost a shantytown, if you wish - so we're afraid the damage might be great," he said.

A month ago DR Congo's minister for transport banned all Antonovs from flying over Congolese territory, our correspondent says. But the ban was lifted a week ago as it was so unpopular.

EU ban

At least 20 private companies in DR Congo operate mainly old planes built in the former Soviet Union.

Last year, the European Union banned all but one of the country's air companies, including Africa 1, from operating in Europe.

The International Air Transport Association also included DR Congo in a group of several African countries it classed as an "embarrassment" to the industry.

In 1996, more than 300 people were killed when an Antonov 32 aircraft ploughed into a busy market soon after taking off from an airport in Kinshasa.

Aircraft are used extensively for transport in DR Congo, a huge country where there are few paved roads.

Footage of plane crash wreckage

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