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U.N. Envoy’s Plane Wreckage Found

June 28, 1998

MANGROVE SWAMPS NEAR AKOURE, Ivory Coast (AP) _ Rescuers found mangled body parts, luggage and personal identity documents Sunday in the wreckage of a small chartered plane that was carrying the U.N. envoy to Angola when it crashed.

Pieces of the aircraft smoldered in the grass and bushes, more than 36 hours after the plane went down Friday on land surrounded by mangrove swamps about 35 miles east of the city of Abidjan.

Soldiers and journalists who hacked their way through miles of mud, water and thick forest reached the crash site Sunday and found bodies mutilated beyond recognition and littered across a 100-yard area.

Searchers recovered six personal identity documents, including one belonging to 59-year-old Alioune Blondin Beye, the United Nations special envoy to Angola.

The other five bore the names of Senegalese journalist Moktar Gueye, Chad citizen Beadegar Dessandde, Togolese foreign ministry official Koffi Adoyi and two people of unidentified nationality _ Jason McNeill and Ibikunle Williams.

There were no signs anyone survived. Ivorian officials said either seven or eight were aboard, and Togolese officials said the plane carried seven people. No explanation for the discrepancy was given. One Portuguese citizen and two South African pilots were reported to be among those on board.

The plane itself was broken into two large, mangled pieces and many smaller parts.

A black carry-on bag sat incongruously to the side, intact save for a burst zipper spilling out a calculator, eye drops and a short-wave radio.

Rescuers had been prevented from reaching the aircraft on the first day of the search by poor telephone communications and difficulties in finding their way through the dense forests and marshlands.

A group of French and Ivory Coast soldiers arrived at the site by helicopter Sunday morning. Several ground search parties slogged through the swamp with help from villagers carrying machetes and chainsaws.

The plane left the capital of Lome in the West African nation of Togo on Friday evening after Beye met with Togolese President Gnassigbe Eyadema in a bid to win support for the Angolan peace process.

Beye, a well-respected diplomat from Mali, is credited with leading U.N. peace efforts in Angola, where an intermittent civil war has been waged since independence from Portugal in 1975.

Beye mediated a 1994 peace pact but had threatened to resign last month, saying neither UNITA nor the Angolan government had the ``political will″ to fully comply with the accord.

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