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At Least 19 Dead in Congo Plane Crash

VOA News - October 4, 2007

A cargo plane has crashed into a residential area near Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Officials say at least 19 people were killed, but it is unclear how many of the casualties were passengers and crew and how many were people on the ground. Selah Hennessy reports from the VOA West and Central Africa bureau in Dakar.

Alphonse Makaya lives in the Kingasani neighborhood, where the plane crashed.

Speaking from the site of the accident, he says the plane smashed into a group of houses on the ground, causing an explosion and flames.

He says before firefighters arrived, civilians were trying to put out the fire.

Eddy Isango is a Kinshasa-based journalist who was at the scene of the accident.

He saw emergency workers taking bodies from the plane and bringing injured people to the hospital.

"Head workers told me that they brought to the hospital three injured people, but also eight dead people that they took from the plane," said Eddy Isango.

He said it was impossible to know how many people had died on the ground, because the fire created by the crash was causing mayhem.

"There is still a confusion, because there is still an emergency there because the houses are being destroyed," he said.

He says the Soviet-era cargo plane, an Antonov-26, crashed only a few minutes after take-off.

The plane belonged to Congolese airline Africa One. It is one of more than 50 Congolese airline companies banned in Europe, due to safety concerns.

Congo has one of the worst reputations for air travel in Africa. The African Airlines Association says the country has been responsible for at least half the continent's air crashes in the past decade.

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