Rescuers have today sighted the wreckage of a Beech 1900C regional aircraft which disappeared in the Democratic Republic of Congo yesterday, but there is no sign of survivors among the 17 passengers and crew.
The aircraft was from the fleet of South African leasing company CemAir and under contract to US company Air Serv International, which specialises in air transport for humanitarian organisations.
Air Serv says the aircraft had departed Kisangani, in the north of the country, for Bukavu near the Rwandan border, but failed to arrive.
The last known radio contact with the flight was made 10min before its arrival at Bukavu. Air Serv says there was heavy rain at the time.
Search teams contacted alternate airports within fuel range, with no result, and rescuers today confirmed a visual sighting of the turboprop at 08:10, on a steep ridge about 13km northwest of Bukavu.
"Aerial survey by helicopter indicates that there are no known survivors," says Air Serv. The Beech 1900C, powered by Pratt & Whitney PT6A engines, was carrying two pilots and 15 passengers.
While CemAir, based at Lanseria Airport near Johannesburg, has confirmed it was the lessor of the turboprop, it has not identified the specific airframe.