Aid plane with 17 on board crashes in eastern DR Congo – UN

2 September 2008

A plane carrying humanitarian supplies with 17 people on board, including seven United Nations staff, has crashed into a mountain in the far east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the world body confirmed today.

The plane had been en route from Kisangani to Bukavu yesterday when it crashed into a mountain about 15 kilometres northeast of Bukavu airport while beginning its landing approach in bad weather, UN spokesperson Marie Okabe told reporters in New York.

There were 15 passengers and two crew on board the plane, which was operated by Aid Serv, a United States-based company which provides air transport for the international humanitarian community.

The UN Development Programme (UNDP) said the passengers included five UNDP staff members and two from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has voiced his deep sadness at the news of the crash, stating that his thoughts are with the families and colleagues of those UN and non-governmental organization (NGO) aid workers, Congolese officials and crew who were on board the aircraft.

In a statement issued by his spokesperson, Mr. Ban expressed his gratitude to all UN staff and international aid workers in the DRC “who continue to work tirelessly under difficult conditions to support the Congolese people in their efforts to consolidate peace in their country.”

UNDP Administrator Kemal Derviº issued a statement voicing his deep sadness at learning of the plane crash.

“Words fail one when such terrible events strike,” he said. “The colleagues we lost and those that disappeared with them will always remain in our hearts.”

A team from the UN peacekeeping mission in the DRC, known as MONUC, has located the wreckage. “UN peacekeepers were able to locate the plane and view the crash site from a helicopter, but, due to the difficult terrain, they were unable to land and verify the fate of those onboard,” Ms. Okabe said.

The Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Humanitarian Coordinator for the DRC, Ross Mountain, has gone to Bukavu to coordinate the emergency operation with the UN and humanitarian community.

Ms. Okabe added that there will be an investigation into the cause of the crash.

 

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