Senior United Nations officials have voiced their shock and sadness after yesterday’s plane crash in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) in which a UN aircraft broke into pieces as it attempted to land at Kinshasa’s main airport, killing 32 people.
The one passenger who survived the crash sustained multiple fractures and remains in hospital, according to the UN peacekeeping mission in the DRC (MONUSCO).
Roger Meece, the head of MONUSCO and the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for the DRC, visited the crash site at N’Djili airport this morning, accompanied by other senior officials from the mission.
He offered his condolences to the families, friends and colleagues of the victims, who included both UN and non-UN staff, and expressed shock at the extent of the damage.
The plane had been on a flight from the north-eastern city of Kisangani when it crashed about 1:30 p.m. as it tried to land amid heavy rain and high winds.
Mr. Meece said the process of identifying the bodies of the crash victims was being done as quickly as possible so that the next of kin can be informed. An investigation will also be carried out into the cause of the accident.
The UN Development Programme (UNDP) confirmed that some of its staff were among the people killed.
“I am deeply saddened by this tragic loss of life,” said UNDP Administrator Helen Clark in a statement issued by the agency saluting the dedication of those who died.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has also sent a letter to staff voicing his sorrow at the crash in Kinshasa as well as last Friday’s attack on a UN compound in Afghanistan and other recent deadly incidents involving UN staff in Côte d’Ivoire and Haiti.
“Our fallen colleagues were working in the best tradition of the United Nations, far from home in dangerous places. They gave their lives in the service of humanity; their dedication will continue to inspire us.”
A wreath-laying ceremony for fallen staff will be held tomorrow at UN Headquarters in New York and UN flags will be flown at half-mast at the Organization’s offices around the world.