UN blue helmets help passengers in DR Congo when plane overshoots runway

19 November 2009

United Nations peacekeepers helped passengers and provided emergency medical treatment today after an airliner with 117 passengers on board over-ran the airstrip in Goma in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

The airliner from the Congolese Compagnie Africaine d’Aviation (CAA) was on a flight from Kinshasa, the capital, when its brakes failed to hold on a rain-slicked runway and it overshot the tarmac, coming to rest on a large pile of lava rock.

About 20 passengers were transferred to hospital facilities of the UN mission in DRC (MONUC) in Goma and treated for minor injuries and shock, while a MONUC fire truck doused the plane’s smoking engines.

UN peacekeepers were quickly on the scene to help passengers leave the aircraft through exit slide doors and to control a gathering crowd, MONUC reported.

The mission’s headquarters are near the airport, and it has been aiding a German-funded project to clear lava rock that reduced the length of the runway when the Mt. Nyiragongo volcano erupted in 2002, spewing lava over the a third of the tarmac and much of the town of Goma. Hundreds of local workers and UN earthmoving equipment have been employed in clearing the rock from the airstrip since April of this year.

The airport serves as a supply hub for peacekeepers, humanitarian relief teams and deliveries in eastern Congo, which has been ravaged by fighting between Government troops and various rebel forces, as well as for regular domestic passenger flights.


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