JOHANNESBURG (AFP) – A military plane has crashed in South Africa’s mountainous east, killing 11 people, local media reported Thursday.
The Dakota air force plane, which crashed late Wednesday, was not carrying members of Nelson Mandela’s medical team, as earlier unconfirmed reports suggested.
“On board the aircraft was a crew of six and five passengers, and it was confirmed that there are no survivors,” defence department spokesman Siphiwe Dlamini told local news agency SAPA.
“The SANDF (South African National Defence Force) has commenced with the process of informing the next-of-kin of the deceased members. The names of the deceased will be released when all the next-of-kin have been informed.”
The plane left Pretoria’s Waterkloof Air Force Base and was scheduled to land at 10:00 am (0800 GMT) in Mthatha, a small airport in the Eastern Cape that is the closest to Mandela’s rural homestead of Qunu, where he has lived since retiring from public life.
Rescue helicopters were dispatched to the mountainous region after the plane was reported missing, but had to be called back because of bad weather.
Ground rescue teams were also sent to the area.