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5 Oct, 2007 15:17

Death toll in Congo plane crash stands at 52

Up to 52 people are reported dead after a cargo plane slammed into a residential area in Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo on Thursday. The Ministry for Humanitarian Affairs said the dead included 20 passengers and three Russian crew members.

The Antonov 26 aircraft belonged to the Congolese airline Africa One. It came down in a crowded market neighbourhood, located close to the airport in Kinshasa, shortly after take-off.

Despite initial claims all those on board the flight were killed, there are reports of some survivors.

“One person has miraculously survived – a citizen of Congo. He has been taken to hospital. During the take-off, one of the propellers fell off. While trying to level itself out, the plane grazed some trees, lost its wing, and crashed into a residential neighbourhood,” said Aleksandr Turchinovich, the head of the Consular Department at the Russian Embassy in Congo.

Authorities say they have launched an investigation into the cause of the accident.

Reports say police at the crash site arrested several young men who tried to scavenge scrap metal and engine parts from the wreckage.

On Friday, Congo's Transport Minister was sacked for failing to improve the Democratic Republic of Congo's poor air safety record.