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Four Killed in Congo Plane Crash

August 24, 2001

KIGALI, Rwanda (AP) _ A Russian-built plane lost power and crashed into an eastern Congo jungle, killing four people and injuring seven others, the owner said Friday.

Congolese rebel troops and civilians recovered the bodies of two Russian pilots and a three-year-old Congolese child after combing the crash site, 15 miles from Kavumu airport in Bukavu, the capital of South Kivu province, said Patrice Bashengezi, who owned the plane.

The Antonov-28, owned by Agefreco Air, crashed Thursday afternoon after one of the engines failed about eight minutes after taking off from Kama town, about 200 miles west of the crash site, Bashengezi said. The plane was carrying passengers and cargo in an area where roads are virtually impassable.

``The pilot chose to head for Bukavu instead of returning to the airport from which he took off or go to another one some ten minutes away by flight,″ he said. ``He did not make it. The aircraft plunged, hitting a tree before crashing on the ground about six minutes away from the destination.″

The three-year war between rebels in eastern Congo and the government in the capital, Kinshasa, has left millions dead and the country’s infrastructure destroyed. Safety regulations for operating aircraft are rarely enforced.

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