DR Congo president's aide killed in plane crash: official

A close aide to DR Congo President Joseph Kabila was killed and the country's finance minister seriously injured in a plane crash in the east of the country, the president's office said.

Two American crew members also died, as well as two people crushed by the plane as it came down at Bukavu airport. The statement identified Kabila's aide as Augustin Katumba Mwanke, 48, considered a key member of Kabila's entourage, who had the ear of the president.

Finance Minister Augustin Matata Ponyo was in a serious condition, while Sud-Kivu governor Marcellin Tshisambo had suffered fractures in both legs, said an airport official. The plane overshot the runway at Bukavu airport, the president's office said yesterday.

"The toll is three dead among those on board the plane: Katumba Mwanke, the American pilot and copilot," Interior Minister Katumba Mwanke told reporters.
"There were also two farmers, whose bodies were found under the plane," he added. The plane was carrying nine people, including the crew, he said. Mwanke and the pilot had "died on the spot," a source at the presidency said.

The twin-engine Gulfstream 200 had flown in from the capital Kinshasa via Goma and apparently missed its landing at Bukavu airport, in the vast country's east.
"It touched down only halfway down the runway and went skidding into a ditch beyond the runway. The plane is damaged," a Bukavu airport official told AFP on condition of anonymity.
"The weather was good, I think (the pilot) might have misjudged the runway because (this is) the first time this crew was flying to Bukavu," he added.
The accident happened at around 2:00 pm (1730 IST). Antoine Ghonda, a lawmaker who had previously served as a roving ambassador for Kabila, was also among the injured, the airport official added. 

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