At Least Three Dead in Congo Plane Crash

KINSHASA, Congo (AP) - A Boeing 737 on a test flight crashed
southeast of Congo's capital on Wednesday, killing at least three
people, officials said.

The aircraft suffered unknown "technical problems" shortly
after taking off Brazzaville, capital of neighboring Republic of
Congo, Transport Minister Matthiew Mpita told The Associated Press.

Mpita said three bodies had been found so far and a high death
toll was not expected because the plane was on a test flight.

Earlier, Congo Gov. Richard Ndambu said the plane crashed about
130 miles (210 kilometers) southeast of Kinshasa in the province of
Bandundu.

Ndambu said the Boeing 737 took off from the city of Brazzaville
in neighboring Republic of Congo.

Mpindi Kabeya, an adviser to Congo's prime minister, said two
identity cards had been found: that of an Algerian pilot and
another of a student from Brazzaville. Mpita, however, said it was
too early to determine the identities of the dead.

Rescue workers headed to the site and saw from afar a large
plane "still burning," the governor said.

Air safety has long been lax in Congo, where officials are
easily bribed and tight maintenance schedules are rare. There have
been at least 20 fatal plane crashes since 1996. Most of the
aircraft are aging planes from the former Soviet Union.

The last serious crash was in September, when a humanitarian aid
flight carrying 17 people hit a ridge in bad weather in eastern
Congo. No one survived.

In October 2007, at least 50 people were killed when a cargo
plane slammed into three houses just after taking off from
Kinshasa's international airport on a flight to central Congo.


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