Congo Crash-30 Die

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[Africa News Update]

At least 30 people were killed Thursday after a plane crashed in a poor, crowded suburb of Kinshasa right after takeoff, according to a Congolese Ministry of Information official.

Image taken from television shows what remains of one of the Antonov's two engines.

All 22 on board the plane -- 16 passengers and six crew -- were killed, as well as up to eight people on the ground, according to Jean-Pierre Eale, an aide to the Democratic Republic of Congo's information minister.

The Russian-made Antonov-26 crashed into at least one house near a crowded marketplace in the country's capital, Kinshasa, Congolese officials said.

It took off from Kinshasa International Airport, also known as N'Djili International Airport, around 10:40 a.m. en route to Tshikapa in the southern part of the country near the Angolan border, Eale and other Congolese officials said.

A few minutes after takeoff, the plane experienced problems and began dumping fuel before establishing radio contact with the airport's tower, Eale said. Just as it radioed the tower, the plane crashed into the suburb of Masina, he said.

Video of the scene showed smoldering wreckage, including what appeared to be one of the Antonov-26's two turboprop engines and the charred remains a building. Dozens of men hoisted a water hose to douse the flames.

Joseph Prior, director of the local Doctors without Borders mission, said he and his colleagues treated around 10 or 15 people who suffered third-degree burns after the plane crashed into their homes. "It was mostly chaos and confusion all over the place," he told CNN International. He described the neighborhood as "quite a shantytown" with "lots of ramshackle houses."

The aircraft is owned by local airline El Sam and leased by the Malila company, Congolese transportation official Rashid Patel said. The Democratic Republic of Congo, formerly Zaire, has a dismal aviation record. There have been at least 24 plane crashes since last year -- nearly half of them involving Russian-made Antonovs -- according to Aviation Safety Network. Ten of the crashes since October 4, 2006, have resulted in 61 deaths.

 

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