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129 people sucked out of plane as door bursts open

post #1 of 5
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Associated Press

Published May 9, 2003 CARG10

KINSHASA, Congo -- The rear door of a Russian-built cargo plane burst open as the aircraft carried police officials and their relatives across Congo, and 129 passengers were sucked out, airport officials said Friday.

Kikaya Bin Karubi, a Congolese government spokesman, said seven people had been confirmed dead after being ``ejected from the plane'' at an altitude of 33,000 feet near the southern city of Mbuji-Mayi. Officials were investigating the possibility of other casualties, he said.

Two officials at the international airport in Congo's capital, Kinshasa, independently told The Associated Press that 129 people were feared dead. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity.

The accident happened some 45 minutes into the flight. The pilots managed to turn back and land the plane in Kinshasa, Defense Minister Irung Awan said. The plane, with its rear door missing, could be seen on the airport tarmac.

Nine survivors were being treated for minor injuries and psychological trauma at Kinshasa General Hospital, said Kabamba Mbwebwe, chief doctor at the hospital's emergency ward.

``They were traumatized and spoke of their baggage flying everywhere,'' Mbwebwe told The Associated Press in a telephone interview.

The plane, a privately owned Ilyushin 76, apparently had been chartered to transport Congolese police and their families from Kinshasa to the southeastern city of Lubumbashi, a diamond center.

It was not immediately known why the door came open. Weather conditions during the flight were believed to have been normal.

People in Africa often travel on modified cargo planes that have few seats, leaving most passengers to cram in among their belongings in the rear of the aircraft.

The plane's owner was not immediately known but the decal on the fuselage says ``Ukrainian Cargo Airlines.''

The Ilyushin76 is a medium- to long-range transport. The model was first flown in 1971. It is widely used around the world, particularly in Africa, the Middle East and Asia, as a civilian freighter.

The plane has had a checkered safety record, including at least 45 accidents that resulted in some 393 deaths, according to the Aviation Safety Network Web site, an air safety data base.

On Feb. 19, an Ilyushin 76 crashed in bad weather in Iran, killing 275, including more that 200 elite Iranian soldiers. A month earlier, another of the jets crashed while landing in thick fog in East Timor, killing all six people on board.

Congo, in central Africa, is in the fifth year of a civil war. Despite a series of peace deals, fighting persists in the northeast.
post #2 of 5
This is my worst nightmare
post #3 of 5
I read this this morning...How sad for this to happen to those people..
post #4 of 5
those poor people and there family's!
post #5 of 5
What a horrible tragedy. That is so sad !
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