Three Cameroon football referees feared killed in plane crash

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - Three Cameroon referees were missing, feared dead, aboard a Kenya Airways passenger plane that crashed in southern Cameroon shortly after takeoff, a Confederation of African Football official said on Saturday.

Referee Martin Omgba Zing and linesmen Engelbert Effa and Patrice Boungani Doda were on their way to Kinshasa via Nairobi to officiate at an African Confederation Cup match on Sunday.

The official said they would attempt to find replacement referees from neighbouring Congo Brazzaville to allow the fourth round, first leg tie between TP Mazembe Englebert of the Democratic Republic of Congo and Zimbabwe’s Mwana Africa to go ahead as planned on Sunday or otherwise postpone the match.

Omgba Zing, 37, had been an international referee for the last five years while Boungani Doda, 36, had served on the FIFA panel since 2000. Effa, 37, was in his second year as an international linesman.

Military and civil aviation helicopters were scouring a wide zone in Cameroon between Kribi on the Atlantic coast and Ngomedzap, south of the capital Yaounde in search of the missing plane.

Kenya Airways said the 737-800 airliner, which began its journey in Ivory Coast’s main city Abidjan and stopped over in Cameroon, was carrying 105 passengers and nine crew.

The company said the Douala control tower had received the last message from the aircraft right after takeoff. The plane had been due to land in Nairobi at 0615. (4:15 a.m. British time).