Kabila aide dies, minister hurt in DRC plane crash

Reuters News
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Posted: Feb 12, 2012 10:03 AM

KINSHASA (Reuters) - Democratic Republic of Congo President Joseph Kabila's chief adviser was killed and his finance minister seriously injured in a plane crash near the eastern town of Bukavu on Sunday, a government spokesman said.

The accident, the latest in a string of crashes in a country with one of the world's worst air safety records, comes as Kabila goes about the task of forming a new government coalition after his disputed victory in November's chaotic election.

"Unfortunately I have to confirm the death of Katumba Mwanke and the pilot," spokesman Lambert Mende said by telephone.

"It's a very big loss, he was considered a pillar of the presidential majority." Mende said of Katumba Mwanke.

He added that Finance Minister Matata Ponyo Mapon and roving ambassador Antoine Ngonda were "heavily wounded" in the crash and Marcellin Cishambo Rohuya, governor of the local South Kivu province, was lightly injured.

There was no official death toll immediately available and details of the crash were patchy.

"I don't have the number (of passengers) but according to our people in South Kivu the pilot landed in the middle of the strip, and went over the end," said Alexandre Essome, spokesman for the UN mission in the eastern town of Goma, where the plane took off.

(Reporting by Bienvenu-Marie Bakumanya and Jonny Hogg; Writing by Mark John; Editing by Ben Harding)