KINSHASA, Congo (AP) – The death toll from the crash of a Boeing 737 that went down over a village in Congo has risen to seven, officials in Congo and neighboring Central African Republic said on Thursday.

The plane – owned by a businessman in Central African Republic – was flying from Brazzaville, the capital of the nearby Republic of Congo, when it went down Wednesday. It was heading to Harare, Zimbabwe.

At a news conference on Thursday in Bangui, the capital of the Central African Republic, Transportation Minister Col. Parfait Mbay said that all seven people on board were killed – including one French national.

Richard Nyangwile, who is the director of Congo’s Civil Aviation Authority, confirmed the death toll, which is four more than initially thought. He said the plane went down over the village of Massamba, about 75 miles southeast of Kinshasa.

He said the plane disintegrated in the air after an explosion inside it. Only one part of the plane was still in tact and had buried itself in the ground, according to the account of villagers, Nyangwile said.

“Seven people who were on board are dead – two members of the crew and several mechanics. There is no trace of them because their remains were turned to carbon,” he said. “There are no survivors.”

The Boeing 737 belonged to Bako-Air, a company owned by the Central African Republic businessman.

Mbay, the country’s transportation minister, said the Boeing 737 was on its way to have a maintenance checkup on the plane’s navigational equipment and to issue a new flight certificate. There is location to do that in Central African Republic, he said.

Mbay said the plane was initially registered in Canada and was used as part of the fleet of Air Canada until 2000. It was purchased by Baba Bako, the local businessman who runs Bako-Air, and had been on Central African Republic soil for the past two years.


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