Search on for plane missing between Cameroon, Congo
The search was on in Cameroon and Congo Sunday for a missing plane chartered by a mining firm with 11 people on board from Australia, Britain, France and the United States, officials said.
Cameroon's Communications Minister Issa Thiroma Bakary said the CASA C-212 twin turboprop disappeared Saturday during a flight over dense jungle from the capital Yaounde to Yangadou in northwest Congo-Brazzaville.
"The aircraft had on board 11 people, including nine passengers and two crew members, comprising six Australians, two French, an American and two Britons," he said.
The Australian government earlier said that the plane was carrying a group of mining executives and that it was "seriously concerned" for those on board.
Bakary said the aircraft was operated by a Congo-Brazzaville company, Aero-Service, and chartered by Cam Iron, the Cameroon subsidiary of Sundance Resources, an Australian iron ore mining firm.
"It left Yaounde international airport on Saturday June 19 at 9:13 am with an estimated arrival time of 10:20 am (0920 GMT)," he said. "The last contact took place at 9:51 am."
"The journey came after the holding of an ordinary session of the board of directors of Cam Iron which took place in Yaounde on June 17," he added.
Cameroon has assigned a C-130 Hercules and smaller Piper and Dornier aircraft to search for the plane, and asked local officials, communities and logging firms along its flight path for any clues that might help, he said.
Cameroonian President Paul Biya has set up a crisis panel that is to coordinate the search.
A plane took off for Yangadou from Brazzaville and a helicopter from Libreville, Gabon also joined the search.
"These aircraft are currently on the spot and have carried out the necessary search operations," the Cameroonian minister added.
The government will keep in contact with all those involved and inform the national and international public, he said.
He earlier said that nothing unusual had been reported during the missing plane's take-off.
In Brazzaville where "the possibility of a crash" had not been ruled out earlier, Colonel Pomphile Akoli-Awaya of the capital's Maya-Maya airport said a search plane left earlier in the day but had not yet returned.
The plane was to fly over the area where the crash may have happened but was asked not to land. "If there was a crash we will take further steps," he said.
© 2010 AFP