Plane crash in Congo's east city of Goma kills 7

AP News

3/5/2013 6:15:39 AM - AP News

GOMA, Congo (AP) — A plane crash in the center of the eastern city of Goma killed seven people and injured three, Congolese officials said Tuesday.

The Ukrainian pilot of the plane for CAA managed to avoid buildings in the densely populated area, and crashed the plane on the fences in the backyard of a housing plot. The plane had taken off from the city of Kananga in the country's southwest, stopped in Lodja and was on its way to Goma before the crash, Goma's mayor said.

"There was a thunderstorm and we heard a loud noise. We went out and saw a plane in the backyard. I hadn't realized a plane had crashed, I was under the impression that it was loud thunder," said Lauren Welsh, a resident of the nearby house.

As night fell, the rescue team arrived on site and started tearing apart the plane to extract the bodies of six people. The body of one crew member is still missing, said an authority with the airplane company, Compagnie Africaine d'Aviation, or CAA. The authority spoke on condition of anonymity because he did not have permission to speak to the press.

The CAA official and rescue authorities confirmed that 10 people were on board. Rescue officials found six dead bodies, including the pilot. An official with the company said five crew were among the dead, one crew member was missing and one passenger was killed. Three Congolese men survived the crash and were taken to the hospital, he said.

Goma mayor Naasson Kubuya confirmed that seven were dead. The mayor had earlier said 40 people were on board and only four people survived based on initial police estimations.

"The pilot managed to avoid houses," said Kubuya. "It's a horrifying accident. The city of Goma has become a field of disasters. We sympathize with the families of the deceased."

The plane crashed due to bad weather conditions, he said.

Given the number of crashes in eastern Congo every year, the mayor of Goma called on national authorities to increase measures to improve air traffic and safety.

Last year, a plane crash in the city of Bukavu killed President Joseph Kabila's personal adviser, Augustin Katumba, and four others.