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Mozambique plane disappears with 34 on board

Photo: AFP

A Mozambican plane carrying 34 passengers and crew disappeared between Mozambique and Angola on Friday. Operator LAM is trying to confirm a report that the plane landed in Rundu, in northern Namibia.

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Mozambique

A Mozambican plane carrying 28 passengers and six crew members disappeared en route from Maputo to Luanda on Friday, LAM Mozambique Airlines announced.

The flight, TM470, took off from Maputo at 9:26 GMT and was scheduled to arrive in Luanda at 13:10 GMT, but never arrived.

The aircraft could have made a landing near the northern border of Namibia, the company said in a statement.

"According to initial reports, the plane might have landed in Rundo in northern Namibia, near the border with Botswana and Angola," the statement said. "LAM, airport and aviation authorities are trying to establish contact to confirm this information."

LAM CEO Marlene Manave told journalists the last contact had been at 11:30 GMT.

Heavy rain in the area where it disappeared complicated the search, she said, according to Canalmoz newspaper.

A spokesperson for the company said they were unable to confirm the nationalities of the people on board.

Dense forests

A police commander confirmed the incident to AFP in Namibia.

"We are busy searching. It's dark now and it makes our job a bit difficult," said Olavi Auanga, police commander of the Kavango West region, where the control tower lost signal with the aircraft.

An aviation officer in the area told AFP on condition of anonymity that unconfirmed reports suggested the airplane may have gone down in the Bwabwata National Park around 200 kilometres (124 miles) east of Rundu.

The 6,100-square-kilometre (618-square-mile) reserve covers the narrow strip of land formerly known as the Caprivi strip, a sparsely-populated area with wetlands and dense forests.

LAM, like all Mozambican carriers, has been banned from operating in the European Union since 2011.

"Significant safety deficiencies" led to the blacklisting of all air carriers certified in Mozambique, the EU said at the time.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

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