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DRC Red Cross Ends Hunt for Crash Victims


The Red Cross in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has stopped looking for bodies in the wreckage of Thursday's deadly plane crash. The plane smashed into a densely populated residential area outside Kinshasa, killing around 30 people on the ground and more than 20 passengers on board. Selah Hennessy reports from the VOA West and Central Africa bureau in Dakar.

The plane crashed only minutes after takeoff from Congo's International airport in Kinshasa, exploding in flames and destroying over a dozen homes.

The death toll has risen daily as emergency teams worked their way through the wreckage, dragging bodies from the plane and from the rubble of crushed homes.

"There were officially 52 died and more than 100 wounded," says Kinshasa-based Paul Mpoyi, who works for the Red Cross.

He adds that 29 people have been hospitalized. He says the Red Cross does not believe more bodies will be found.

"Yesterday they stopped the operation, and today it was just the assistance to the persons who were evacuated to the hospitals," he explained.

He says the Red Cross is giving psychological support and food to survivors.

"We have given food assistance to the people who were wounded," he added. "It consists of rice, sugar, and beans."

The plane, a Soviet-era Antonov-26, suffered engine failure on takeoff, according to a U.N. spokesman, and was trying to return to the airport when it crashed.

Transport Minister Remy Kuseyo was fired on Friday, for what a government spokesman said was incompentence.

Congo's government barred the Antonovs from flying in September, but the decision was revoked following pressure from inside and outside the government. Lawmakers Saturday called for an inquiry and punishment for those found responsible for the latest crash.

In August, 14 people were killed when an overloaded Antonov crashed in eastern DRC.

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