A Russian-built jet crashed in Lake Victoria after taking off from Kampala's Entebbe airport in Uganda, killing everyone on board, including three senior Burundi army officers. The aircraft was heading for Mogadishu in Somalia when it caught fire.
AFP - A Soviet-era jet caught fire and crashed into Lake Victoria on Monday after taking off from Uganda's main airport, killing 10 people, including three top Burundi army officers, officials said.
The burning Ilyushin 76, which was headed to Mogadishu from Kampala's Entebbe airport, plunged into the lake, which is next to Entebbe.
A rescue operation was launched with speedboats moving around the wreckage and civil aviation, military and Red Cross teams at the scene.
"It was carrying 10 people and water purification equipment en route to Mogadishu," Uganda's Civil Aviation Authority spokesman Ignia Igundura said.
"All people on board are feared dead," Igundura said, adding the plane had three or four crew.
The disaster took place at 5:14 am (0214 GMT) near the airport, which is some 40 kilometres (25 miles) south of the Ugandan capital.
Burundi army spokesman Adolphe Manirakiza said there were three Burundian officers on the plane, including a brigadier general and a colonel.
"They were on board a small plane and according to information we are receiving fire broke out on board and then the plane crashed," Manirakiza explained.
The three officers were part of the African Union peacekeeping force in Somalia, known as AMISOM, and were travelling with Ugandan troops, Manirakiza said. Uganda's military spokesman confirmed the details.
AMISOM comprises some 3,400 troops from Uganda and Burundi.
The deputy commander of Burundi's contingent in Somalia Nicolas Bwakira said they received the news of the crash with "sadness and shock."
"Unfortunately, it is highly unlikely that there are survivors," he added.
Monday's plane crash was the latest setback to the mission. On February 22, 11 Burundian troops were killed and 15 wounded in a suspected suicide attack on their base in southern Mogadishu.
The AU deployed forces in the Somali capital in March 2007 to help pacify the war-wracked country, but have come under repeated attacks by hardline Islamist insurgent groups.
The effectiveness of the AU mission has been hampered by under-funding and lack of equipment as Somalia's civil war, dating back to 1991, drags on.
Somalia has had no central government since the 1991 ouster of president Mohamed Siad Barre sparked a dealy clan rivalry and fighting which has defied numerous attempts to restore stability.
Date created : 2009-03-09