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13 July 2011

DRC plane crash toll rises

The death toll from last week's passenger plane crash in northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo rose to around 80 with 14 still unaccounted for, Health Minister Victor Makwenge said Tuesday.

“It's very difficult to have the final toll” as some of the injured have died over the past few days, he added.

Saturday the Red Cross and medical sources put the provisional death toll at 74.

The Boeing 727 operated by Hewa Bora crashed at Kisangani airport as it attempted to land in heavy rain with 112 passengers and six crew on board.

The plane was on a regular commercial route from Kinshasa to Kisangani and Goma when it hit a storm on its approach to the airport, a local administration spokesman said.

Plane accidents are frequent in DR Congo, often blamed on ageing and poorly maintained aircraft, the flouting of safety rules and bad weather.

Each of its 50 or so airlines has been blacklisted by the European Union.

In early April a UN plane missed its landing at Kinshasa due to bad weather, causing 32 deaths.

It was the first crash involving UN mission in DR Congo since the operation was launched in 1999. -