Humanitarian aid plane crashes in Congo with 17 on board leaving no survivors

A humanitarian aid flight carrying 17 people crashed on a ridge in eastern Congo, and the U.S.-based group that operated the route said Tuesday there appeared to be no survivors.

The 21-seat Beechcraft 1900 aircraft went missing in bad weather late Monday with two crew and 15 passengers on board, a spokeswoman for the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said.

It was located Tuesday morning, 9.4 miles (15 kilometers) northwest of the airstrip at Bukavu in eastern Congo, its intended destination, Elisabeth Byrs told journalists in Geneva.

"Rescuers are on site," she said, adding that she had no confirmation of casualties. The identity of the passengers and crew was not immediately disclosed.

Air Serv International, a Warrenton, Virginia-based group, runs the twice-weekly aid delivery between Kisangani and Bukavu.

"Search and rescue efforts were initiated early this morning and visual confirmation of the downed aircraft was made," a company statement said.

The location was on steep ridge, it said.

Air Serv International describes itself as a not-for-profit aviation organization that supports humanitarian programs worldwide.

No Air Serv personnel were involved in the crash, said Suzanne Musgrave, a spokeswoman for the group, told The Associated Press by telephone from Warrenton.

She said the plane was being flown by a South African commercial company, Cem Air.

A senior official with the South African company confirmed that the plane used for the flight was owned by Cem Air and that two of its crew were flying the aircraft.

"I'm in contact with the South African air force base there, and they haven't given me any information about any survivors or whether we know it was our airplane," Cem Air's chief pilot MJ Booysen said by telephone from South Africa.

"The airplane at this point is missing, but we are on standby for further information," he said.

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