Three S Africans aboard DRC plane

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Pretoria - The South African government has confirmed that three South Africans were aboard an aircraft which crashed in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) yesterday.

"We can confirm that three South Africans were killed. However, at the moment we are awaiting information from the UN on the exact number," International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) spokesperson Clayson Monyela said on Tuesday morning.

"We convey a message of condolences from government to the affected families," said Monyela.

The plane, which had been traveling from the north-eastern city of Kisangani, was attempting to land in heavy rain at N'Djili airport in Kinshasa when it crashed about 1pm local time. The aircraft was a regular flight for the UN mission in DRC, known as MONUSCO, carrying 33 UN and non-UN staff.

Only one person survived the plane crash. He was hospitalized, Alain Le Roy, the UN under-secretary-general for peacekeeping operations, told reporters.

After the crash, MONUSCO dispatched medical rescue teams to the crash site as well as an emergency team to gather information about the accident. MONUSCO consists of more than 19 000 uniformed peacekeepers to protect civilians in the conflict-torn country and monitor the implementation of an arms embargo. 

Nestor Osorio, the Colombian UN ambassador who holds the rotating Security Council presidency for April, conveyed the UN Security Council's "deepest condolences".

"On behalf of the members of the Security Council, I would like to express our profound sorrow for the accident that occurred today in Kinshasa when a UN airplane missed the air-strip and crashed resulting in the deaths of 32 persons including both UN and non UN staff," he said on Monday.

There were 29 passengers and four crew members aboard the plane, Le Roy said. - BuaNews-Xinhua

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