5 dead as cargo plane crashes into crowded Congo market

Smoke and confusion make it hard to determine how many people were aboard the plane, which had just taken off.

October 4, 2007 14:52
1 minute read.
5 dead as cargo plane crashes into crowded Congo market

cargo plane 224.88. (photo credit: AP)

At least five people were killed Thursday when a cargo plane crashed in a crowded market in a residential neighborhood near the airport in Congo's capital, police said. Airport officer Appo Ilunga said the Antonov 26 crashed into a market area of the Kingasani neighborhood of Kinshasa around 10:30 a.m. (0930 GMT). He said he did not yet know if there were any deaths, or how many people were aboard the plane. A neighborhood resident reached by phone said the area was full of smoke and the confusion was making it hard to determine whether there deaths or injuries. Papy Kangufu said the market was full of people when the plane crashed. Ilunga said the plane had just taken off from the airport en route to central Congo. Kingasani is about 5 kilometers from the Kinshasa airport. Russia's ITAR-Tass news agency reported that the plane had a Russian crew. "According to early reports, all people on board were killed. There are also casualties among people at the market," ITAR-Tass said, adding that the plane belonged to Congolese carrier Africa 1. Cargo planes in Congo are often flown by experienced pilots from former Soviet states, but the aircraft are often old, ill-maintained and overloaded, and the country is notorious for crashes which are reported each year. In August, the government suspended the licences of a number of private local airlines and suspended the national director of civil aviation after an Antonov 12 carrying 3 tons over the recommendend capacity crashed in the eastern region of Katanga, killing 14 people. Some local airline companies operating in Congo today flew during back-to-back wars that lasted from 1996 to 2002, when regulations and government controls in the region were even weaker than today. Few passable roads traverse Congo after decades of war and corrupt rule, forcing the country's deeply impoverished people to rely on often-unsafe boats and planes to move around. In 1996, an Antonov 32 turboprop crashed seconds after takeoff from Kinshasa's main airport, skidding across a busy street and plowing into a crowded open-air market. The crash killed at least 300 people, one of the worst air accidents in Congo's history.

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