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09 Mar 2009 16:31
A South African was among the 11 people killed when a cargo plane they were travelling in caught fire and crashed into Uganda’s Lake Victoria shortly after take-off on Monday.
The plane was carrying equipment for African Union peacekeepers in Somalia.
All those on board died.
The victims were seven passengers—three senior Burundian military officers, two Ugandans, an Indian and a South African—and four Russian crew members, Information Minister Kabakumba Matsiko said.
The Ilyushin 76 was carrying water purifiers, pipes and other equipment for Ugandan troops who are part of an African Union peacekeeping force in Somalia, Ugandan army spokesperson Major Felix Kulaigye said.
The cause of the crash was under investigation, the Ugandan Civil Aviation Authority said.
Kulaigye said eyewitnesses reported seeing the plane catch fire in the air before it crashed into the lake.
Uganda has around 600 peacekeepers in Somalia, where the weak UN-backed government is battling an Islamic insurgency.
It is preparing to send another 800 when funding for transport and logistics is in place.
Burundi has 1 700 soldiers in Somalia. Burundi army spokesperson Adolphe Manirakiza said the three Burundian soldiers included Brigadier General Ndikumana Salum, who is the deputy commander of Burundian peacekeepers in Somalia, a colonel and a captain. He said the plane crashed five minutes after take-off.
Air crashes are not unusual in Africa, where many airlines fly old or outdated aircraft—often from the former Soviet Union—and infrastructure is often not properly maintained.
Some airlines are banned from flying in Europe.—Sapa-AP
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