At least ten people have died after a small passenger plane carrying United Nations staff-members crashes at the Kinshasa airport in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), according to the UN.
The plane, which was flying to Kinshasa from the northeastern city of Kisangani, reportedly broke up when it hit the runway as the pilot tried to make a safe landing amidst heavy rain, according to Pelle Kipela Mondo, deputy editor-in-chief of Radio Okapi, which is co-managed by the UN peacekeeping mission in the DRC.
U.N. peacekeeping spokesman Nick Birnback said the death toll could climb higher (there were reportedly as many as 30 people on board).
Mondo said that Congolese-based UN personnel are conducting rescue efforts at the Kinshasa airport.
The cause of the crash is not yet known.
The U.N. mission in Congo, which is known as MONUSCO, comprises more than 19,000 uniformed peacekeeping troops and has the responsibility of protecting civilians in the strife-torn country.
It has been operating in Congo since 1999, but its mandate is expected to expire this June.
It is believed that as many as 5 million people have died in the Congolese civil war.