DR CONGO / PLANE CRASH

08-Sep-2008 00:01:10
An Air Serv International plane crashed one week ago (1 Sept) as it started its descent towards Bukavu, in the province of South Kivu in eastern DRC. All 17 passengers and the two pilots on board were killed. MONUC
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DESCRIPTION
STORY: DR CONGO / PLANE CRASH
TRT: 1.10
SOURCE: MONUC
RESTRICTIONS: NONE
LANGUAGE: FRENCH / NATS

DATELINE: 3 SEPTEMBER 2008, SOUTH KIVU, DR CONGO
SHOTLIST
1. Medium shot, helicopter taking off
2. Close aerial shot, over forest
3. Medium aerial shot, over mountains
4. Medium shot, helicopter landing
5. Medium shot, MONUC Peacekeepers and rescue team
6 Close shot, MONUC Peacekeepers and rescue team
7.Various shots, broken pieces of the crashed plane
8. Medium shot, helicopter takes off
STORYLINE
Rescue teams have located in the vicinity of the crash site the remains of all 17 passengers on board an aid flight that went down in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) one week ago.

Seven UN staff were among those on the plane – operated by the United States-based company Air Serv – that crashed last Monday (1 September) as it started its descent towards Bukavu, in the eastern Congolese province of South Kivu.

The victims include one Canadian and four Congolese employees of the UN Development Programme (UNDP), as well as one French citizen and one UN volunteer from India, both of whom worked for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

On receiving news of the crash, Mr. Ross Mountain, resident representative of the UNDP in the DRC and Deputy Special Representative of the UN Secretary General last week flew to Bukavu. He held briefings with the rescue team as well as coordinators of the operations.

Search and rescue teams located the site of the accident, some 16 kilometres northwest of Bukavu airport. Difficult mountainous terrain and bad weather initially hindered rescue efforts as peacekeepers struggled for three days to reach the site of the crash.

Led by Indian and Pakistani Peacekeepers and using Lama Helicopters from India, the rescue team embarked on a difficult and very challenging mission. After several hours of flying over the rolling mountains at an altitude of more than 8,000 feet above sea level and under difficulty weather conditions the team finally spotted the crash site.

The team recovered 17 bodies and brought them back to Bukavu on Thursday last week. The plane's flight recorder was also recovered from the wreckage.

Also on the plane were three members of the non-governmental organization (NGO) Handicap International Belgium and one employee of MSF-Holland. Four Congolese parliamentary administration members and two pilots were also on board.

Air Serv is one of several entities and private contractors which service the large community of aid workers operating in Congo, a vast, mineral-rich former Belgian colony which is still suffering a humanitarian crisis triggered by a 1998-2003 war.

A memorial service for the victims was to be held today (9 September) in the Democratic Republic of Congo's capital Kinshasa.
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