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09 Mar 2009 14:00
An Antonov cargo plane en route to Somalia crashed into Lake Victoria on Monday after taking off from Uganda’s main airport, killing about 10 people, officials said.
The 10 dead included three top Burundian officers of the African Union (AU) peacekeeping force in Somalia, a Burundi army spokesperson told AFP.
The plane plunged into Lake Victoria, which is next to the airport, an AFP correspondent witnessed.
A Reuters photographer at the scene saw wreckage and divers searching the lake, but no bodies.
Burundi army spokesperson Adolphe Manirakiza said the aircraft crashed shortly after take-off from Entebbe, Uganda’s main international airport.
“They [the officers] were on board a small plane and, according to information we are receiving, fire broke out on board and then the plane crashed,” Manirakiza explained. One of the officers was a general and a second was a colonel, he said.
Russian media said the pilot and co-pilot were Russian citizens and the navigator and flight engineer were Ukrainians.
All four were killed in the crash, Ruslan Madiyev, an official at the Russian embassy in Kampala, told RIA news agency.
An Ugandan army official said the chartered aircraft was flying to the Somali capital Mogadishu where about 3 400 troops from Uganda and Burundi are based trying to contain an Islamist insurgency.
Uganda’s military spokesperson confirmed the details.—Sapa-AFP, Reuters
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