UPDATE 5-U.N. plane crashes in Congo killing 32

Mon Apr 4, 2011 6:47pm EDT

* Congolese and foreigners aboard - UN

* Crash took place as plane landed in strong winds

* Crew was Georgian - flight operator

(Updates with detail on plane, paragraph 8)

By Jonny Hogg

KINSHASA, April 4 (Reuters) - A United Nations plane crashed while trying to land at the airport serving Congo's capital Kinshasa on Monday, killing 32 people, U.N. officials said. One person aboard survived.

"We can confirm only one survivor out of the 33 people on board the ... plane," U.N. spokesman Farhan Haq said in New York. The world body earlier said Congolese and foreign nationals were on board the plane.

The operator of the plane, Georgian flag carrier Airzena Georgian Airways, said the crew was Georgian.

A U.N. source in Kinshasa, who asked not to be named, said: "The plane landed heavily, broke into two and caught fire." There were strong winds blowing at the time.

Congolese Health Ministry official Joseph Kiboko said: "We sent eight people to hospital who were still breathing, but I don't know whether they survived. Both the pilots were killed."

Twenty U.N. workers were listed as on board the flight.

A Reuters correspondent at the airport said the plane was completely destroyed and the wreckage was lying at the end of the runway.

The plane, a Bombardier (BBDb.TO) CRJ-200 jet, had taken off from the eastern city of Kisangani, a U.N. spokesman based in Kinshasa said. Officials had earlier told Reuters the plane was a CRJ-300.

The U.N.'s 19,000-strong peacekeeping mission is backing Congo government efforts to fight rebel groups that have been haunting the country's troubled east since a 1998-2003 civil war that killed five million people. (Additional reporting by Margarita Antidze in Tbilisi; Writing by Bate Felix and Richard Valdmanis; Editing by David Storey)