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World - Africa

Plane crash kills 19 in Angolan capital

Graphic February 2, 1999
Web posted at: 3:32 a.m. EST (0832 GMT)

LUANDA, Angola (Reuters) -- Nineteen people were killed when a privately-owned Antonov 12 aircraft crashed into the poor Luanda suburb of Cazenga on Tuesday, Angolan state radio reported.

The aircraft had just taken off from Luanda for the diamond-rich northeastern town of Lucapa, it said.

"It fell into some houses and 19 people were killed but we're waiting for more details," Branco Ferreira, the director of civil aviation, told the radio.

It was not known how many people were on board or whether any of the casualties were among people on the ground.

The plane was owned by Angolan-based charter company Aviacao Civile. The radio said it was not known who had chartered the aircraft but it was not the government or the United Nations.

It was too early to say what had caused the crash, the radio said.

A resident of Cazenga told Reuters the aircraft crashed about 4 a.m. (0300 GMT), exploding in flames when it plowed into houses.

"Everybody in the plane must be dead," a resident said. "The only survivors are from the houses. Two houses have been completely destroyed."

The radio said two people aboard had escaped from the burning wreckage but the resident said this was unlikely as the aircraft was destroyed.

In late December and early January, two U.N.-chartered aircraft crashed, presumably shot down, over central Angola, a move which prompted the United Nations to scale back its operations in the southern African country.

The 1994 peace accord between the government and rebels of the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola has been shattered and both sides say the country is back to full-scale civil war.

Fierce fighting has broken out in the diamond and oil areas of Angola, where many foreign companies operate and use aircraft extensively to move staff and equipment around as the rebels and the government battle for control of the resources.

Copyright 1999 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved.

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