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Thirteen die in Congo plane crash, officials say

A plane crashed north of the capital in Republic of Congo, killing 13 people, officials say.
/ Source: The Associated Press

A plane crashed north of the Republic of Congo capital, killing 13 people, officials said Saturday.

The Ukrainian-built Antonov 26, registered by Air Kasai in neighboring Congo, went down 30 miles north of Brazzaville on Friday afternoon, government spokesman Alain Akoula said.

Rescue workers found 13 bodies, including those of the four-person Ukrainian crew, he said. The cause of the crash was unknown.

The plane had taken off from an airstrip in Congo’s Equateur province and was bound for that country’s capital, Kinshasa, after flying over eastern territory of the Republic of Congo.

The two capitals of the neighboring, similarly named countries face each other on opposite banks of the Congo River.

On Friday, Congo’s government pulled operating licenses from dozens of the central African nation’s airlines, grounding their planes after a spate of air accidents.

Transport Minister Eva Mwakasa did not name the 33 prohibited airlines, telling reporters only that the companies were all registered in Congo.

Some of the airlines flew cargo planes fitted with plastic chairs in the hold for passengers traveling around a country the size of Western Europe with few passable roads, Mwakasa said.