Saturday, October 10, 2009

U.N. plane crash in Haiti kills 11

Eleven U.N. peacekeepers died on Friday when their surveillance plane crashed into a mountainside in Haiti during a routine patrol, U.N. officials said.

A U.N. rescue team confirmed there were no survivors among the 11 crew and military personnel on the plane, a Casa-212, when it went down near the town of Fonds-Verrettes, near the border with the Dominican Republic.

The dead were Uruguayans and Jordanians, U.N. spokeswoman Vannina Maestracci said.

The cause of the crash was unknown.

"The United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti announces with sadness that a MINUSTAH plane, carrying 11 passengers, including the crew, crashed southeast of the commune of Ganthier," the United Nations said in a statement.

"The Casa 212 aircraft was making a reconnaissance flight at the time of the accident before hitting a mountainside."

The U.N. peacekeeping force has been in Haiti since 2004. It consists of some 9,000 troops and police.

Local officials said the plane went down in a remote area near the village of Pays-Pourri in the district of Ganthier, a farming region area east of the capital, Port-au-Prince.

"It's in a very inaccessible area, about six hours on foot from Ganthier," Ralph Lapointe, the mayor of Ganthier, told Reuters by telephone.

"It happened shortly before noon. I saw several U.N. helicopters flying toward the area," he said. "It seems that they have already recovered the bodies."

(Reporting by Joseph Guyler Delva in Port-au-Prince and Patrick Worsnip at the United Nations; Editing by Jim Loney and Peter Cooney)

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