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Four bodies pulled from Congo plane crash wreckage


By Stanis Bujakera

KINSHASA (Reuters) - Four unidentified bodies have been found in Congo amid the wreckage of a plane that had been carrying staff of Congolese President Felix Tshisekedi, the government said on Tuesday.

The cargo plane, believed to have been carrying around eight passengers and crew, crashed last Thursday in Democratic Republic of Congo's central province of Sankuru.

The Antonov An-72 transport aircraft, which was operated by the air force on behalf of the presidency, was flying to the capital Kinshasa in the west of the country when it came down near the town of Kole.

It had disappeared from radar an hour after taking off from Goma in the east.

"Experts confirm that the debris found near Kole, Sankuru province, in the centre of the country, are indeed those of the An-72," the president's office said in a statement.

Among those on board were Tshisekedi's driver, a logistics manager, bodyguards and two Russian pilots, Congolese and Russian authorities said.

Photographs circulating on social media showed parts of the wreckage in thick jungle.

A team of investigators, backed by experts from the United Nations peacekeeping mission, have reached the crash site, the president's office said. The cause of the accident was not yet clear.

(Additional reporting by Fiston Mahamba; Writing by Hereward Holland; Editing by Giles Elgood)

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