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Plane crash in Congo kills 83
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Flames from a wreckage of a passenger plane are seen after it crashed in Goma in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

A plane crashed Tuesday shortly after taking off from the Goma airport in the Democratic Republic of Congo, killing 83 passengers and crew on board, a foreign ministry spokesman said.

The Hewa Bora Airways DC-9 was heading from the city of Goma in the eastern mountains to the central city of Kisangani when it plummeted into a neighborhood near the runway, spokesman Antoine Ghonda said.

The DC-9 plane crashed Tuesday into a residential neighborhood in the eastern Congo town of Goma, according to government officials.

Julien Mpaluku, the governor of the province, said the plane faltered after takeoff and plunged into a populated neighborhood. A rescue team was on its way to the crash site. The adjunct commander of the Goma airport, Gauthier Iloko, said rescue teams had already pulled at least 10 people out of the wreck alive.

"We are preoccupied with trying to save as many survivors as possible," said Iloko, who said the plane's manifest has not yet been located. "It's difficult to give a number, but there are already at least 10 survivors that were pulled out of the wreck and who were sent to the hospital."

The neighborhood of Birere, where the plane went down, is located just beyond the runway. The runway used to continue into the neighborhood, but was partially destroyed by lava from a 2001 volcanic eruption.

"The plane appears to have missed its takeoff and crashed in a populated neighborhood," said Mpaluku. "As the plane has just now crashed, we have sent a team to the site to determine how many passengers were on board."

The DC-9 is owned by Hewa Bora, a private company, Mpaluku said. It was headed to Kinshasa, Congo's capital, said Iloko. The airline is based in the capital of Kinshasa.

The Democratic Republic of Congo has a dismal aviation record. There have been at least 24 plane crashes in the past year, according to the Aviation Safety Network.

(Agencies via China Daily April 16, 2008)

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