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Congo's Gomair says cargo plane crashed, no word on casualties

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KINSHASA (Reuters) – A Congolese cargo plane that went missing after delivering materials for a presidential election has crashed, a senior manager at the airline said on Friday.

It was not clear how many people were on board.

Air accidents are relatively frequent in Democratic Republic of Congo due to lax safety standards.

“The plane has fallen and there are people on the ground,” Gomair’s financial director, Jean de Dieu Gato Karekezi, told Reuters by telephone after the aircraft’s disappearance on Thursday, adding he was unable to give more information.

Earlier, Karekezi said the plane had been rented by the national electoral commission (CENI) to deliver election materials to Tshikapa, a city near the border with Angola, and contact was lost as it flew back to the capital.

A CENI spokeswoman said the agent who had taken the flight to Tshikapa had stayed there, but she did not provide any further information.

The incident follows a tumultuous week in Democratic Republic of Congo, which has seen the long-anticipated election postponed for a week to Dec. 30 due to logistical issues, clashes between protesters and police, and the deaths of over 100 people in fighting among ethnic groups in the northwest.

(Reporting by Giulia Paravicini and Sofia Christensen in Dakar; Writing by Aaron Ross and Alessandra Prentice; Editing by Kevin Liffey and Andrew Roche)

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