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Congo: Sole survivor of U.N. plane that crashed recounts strong winds (UPDATES) (VIDEO)

The Congolese journalist, one of 33 aboard the U.N. peacekeeping flight, described strong winds buffeting the plane before it crashed.

Congo ben affleck 2011 4 5Enlarge
Ben Affleck testifies during a House Foreign Affairs committee hearing on "The Democratic Republic of the Congo: Securing Peace in the Midst of Tragedy" at the Rayburn House Office Building on March 8, 2011 in Washington, DC. (Kris Connor/Getty Images)

The sole survivor of Monday's passenger plane crash that killed 32 people, most of them U.N. staff, spoke from his Kinshasa hospital bed of high winds hitting the plane in the moments before it went down.

The plane was ferrying U.N. personnel, including peacekeepers from the north-eastern city of Kisangani to Kinshasa's N'Djili airport, according to the U.N. mission in Congo, known as MONUSCO

Francis Mwamba, a Congolese journalist, had been returning from a reporting trip in the troubled country's east, Reuters reported. 

Mwamba, who remains in intensive care, said the plane encountered bad weather as it approached the capital's airport.

"There was a lot of wind and the plane started to move violently," he said of the moments before the crash, adding that the next thing he remembered was waking up in hospital.

“Six to eight people were ejected from the plane when it broke in two.”
~AFP reporter

The Canadian Regional Jet (CRJ) 200 aircraft, with 29 passengers and 4 crew aboard, came down next to the air strip in high winds and heavy rain and broke up on landing, according to several reports.

It is one of the worst disasters ever involving U.N. transport.

According to Reuters, the U.N. has a fleet of more than a dozen planes in the country to transport its personnel, journalists and staff of international and local non-governmental organizations.

The U.N.'s head of mission in the Central African country, Roger Meece, defended the U.N.'s safety record, saying it was the first time in the Congo mission's history that a U.N. plane had suffered a fatal crash, Reuters reported.

The operator of the Bombardier CRJ 200 - Georgian flag carrier Airzena Georgian Airways, said the crew of the plane were Georgians. The U.N. has not released  the identities or nationalities of the victims.

There are few passable roads in Congo, and the impoverished country — which has weathered decades of war and corrupt rule — has one of the worst air safety records in the world.

MONUSCO, charged with protecting civilians in the huge violence-wracked Central African nation, includes more than 19,000 uniformed peacekeeping troops, according to the AP.

According to an AFP reporter, quoted in the Sydney Morning Herald, rescuers and firefighters had to "cut out seats to free people trapped inside."

"The accident was caused by the rain," she reportedly added. "The plane broke up completely. A part of the cockpit rolled along the ground for 800 meters. Six to eight people were ejected from the plane when it broke in two."

 

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/africa/110405/congo-un-plane-crash-video