Kinshasa, May 10 (Reuters): The Congolese military investigated today how the cargo doors of a Russian-built transport plane burst open in mid-flight, catapulting possibly scores of passengers to their deaths.
Information minister Kikaya Bin Karubi said he had been informed of seven dead, but aviation officials, diplomats and a survivor all said well over 100 soldiers and their family members had been killed.
“The air force and the army are looking into the problem as we speak.
“We want to find out whether this is a human error or a mechanical problem,” Karubi said late yesterday.
He said he had no idea how many people had been on board the Ilyushin Il-76 jet, which was ferrying troops from Kinshasa to the Democratic Republic of Congo’s second city of Lubumbashi.
Karubi said today the official death toll of seven would rise once a first investigation by the military had concluded.
“The official figure will change today,” he said.
An army spokesman said early today the death toll stood at 17, a mix of military officials, women and children.