250 Die as Plane Hits Market

Article excerpt

MATTHEW TOSTEVIN

Reuter

Kinshasa - A Zairean cargo plane crashed into a crowded market in the centre of the Zaire capital yesterday, killing 250 people, rescuers said.

The plane, a Russian-built Antonov-32, ploughed through the market for about 100 metres, scattering wreckage, before coming to a halt belching flames and black smoke. Firefighters from the nearby Ndolo airport, where the plane took off, tried to dampen the flames.

"We found 217 bodies," said Vincent Nicod of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). "I think there are 32 more bodies at hospital morgues. So I don't think there are less than 250 people in all." Most of the victims were women and children.

Four Russian crew members from the plane survived the crash, and an attempt by an angry crowd to lynch them at a clinic where they were treated for minor injuries. Zaire's state prosecutor, Mukenge Bisumbule, said police took the Russians into custody "for their own safety", and were looking for two other crew members - a Ukrainian and a Zairean.

Red Cross workers with blood-stained stretchers joined soldiers and local volunteers at the market. …