Plane crashes in DR Congo, killing two

21.10.2010

A Filipino pilot and his Congolese co-pilot were killed Thursday when their cargo plane crashed near Bukavu in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, an airport source said.

The plane, a Let-410 of Czech manufacture, crashed near Bugulumisa, 30 kilometres (20 miles) from Bukavu, five minutes after take-off, said the source, who asked not to be named.

The aircraft, owned by the private Congolese company Tracep, was heading from Bukavu to Shabunda, 180 kilometres (115 miles) to the west, carrying 1.5 tonnes of food and other goods, with only the pilot and co-pilot on board, the source added.

Air accidents are frequent in the DR Congo and all Congolese airlines -- out of 50 that have been listed -- are banned from flying in the airspace of the European Union.

Many aircraft are old and badly maintained, and often overloaded when they are cargo planes. The failure to respect security regulations also causes accidents, along with bad weather.

The last accident was on August 25 at Bandundu in the west, where 20 of the 21 people on board the plane were killed. The dead included the Belgian owner of the air company, who was flying the aircraft himself, which was also a Let-410.

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KINSHASA, Congo -- A Congolese official says two people died when their small plane crashed into a gorilla park in eastern Congo.

Provincial Transportation Minister Laban Kashande says the small cargo plane crashed in Kahuzi-Biega National Park, which is home to endangered eastern lowland gorillas. He says Thursday's crash killed the Filipino pilot and his Congolese co-pilot. U.N. Radio says there were no survivors.

Kashande says the plane was owned by a local airliner called Starec Congo and was carrying some 3,300 pounds (1,500 kilograms) of commercial goods.

He says officials are still investigating the cause of the crash.

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