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More Than 70 Killed in Eastern DRC Plane Crash


Officials in the Democratic Republic of Congo say more than 70 people have been killed in the crash of a passenger plane in the eastern city of Goma. The plane, which was carrying up to 100 people, crashed into a busy market area shortly after take-off Tuesday and burst into flames. They say at least six people on board survived, including two pilots. Kari Barber reports from our West and Central Africa bureau in Dakar.

Serge Ukungi saw the passenger plane crash and burst into flames.

"I was near the plane, I was 200 meters from the accident," said Ukungi.

He says he saw the pilot and a few other survivors being pulled out.

The jet, owned by Hewa Bora airline, a private Congolese company, was on a flight to Kinshasa. Journalist Naomi Schwarz was on the scene in the Birere neighborhood of Goma near the runway.

"A plane crashed about an hour and a half ago in the middle of a busy market street. The plane is still smoking, the fire seems to be getting worse," she said. "The whole top of the plane is ripped off and the two buildings next door are pretty much destroyed too. People are carrying buckets full of water to try to put out the fire. Just buckets they found on the streets."

Schwarz says rescue workers fear many people on the ground were killed too. She says the United Nations has had to hold people back to prevent them from getting too close to the plane which was still on fire.

Democratic Republic of Congo has one of the worst aviation safety records in the world.

A plane crash in a residential area of the capital Kinshasa last year left more than 50 people dead.

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