Aid plane crashes in Congo

A plane carrying 17 people on a humanitarian aid flight has crashed in Congo. It is unclear if there are any survivors.

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GENEVA // A plane carrying 17 people on a humanitarian aid flight has crashed in Congo, the United Nations said today. Air Serv International, which runs the twice-weekly aid delivery between Kisangani to Bukavu, said an aerial survey by helicopter showed no survivors. The Beechcraft plane went missing in bad weather yesterday with two crew and 15 passengers on board, said Elisabeth Byrs, a spokesman for the UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs. She said the plane was discovered today 15km North-west of the airstrip at Bukavu in eastern Congo. She added that rescuers were on site but said she had no confirmation of casualties. The identity of the passengers and crew was not immediately disclosed.

"Search and rescue efforts were initiated early this morning and visual confirmation of the downed aircraft was made," a company statement said. The location was on steep ridge, it said. Air Serv International, a Warrenton, Virginia-based group, describes itself as a "not-for-profit" aviation organisation that supports humanitarian programs worldwide. Suzanne Musgravea, a spokesman for Air Serv, said that no Air Serv personnel were involved in the crash. She said that a commercial company called Cem Air was flying the plane.

* AP