Irish man's plane missing in Africa


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The Department of Foreign Affairs has confirmed that an Irish citizen is among those missing following the disappearance of a plane in Africa.


James Casserly, who was born in Ballymena, Co Antrim, but grew up in Quin, Co Clare, was travelling on his British passport on a chartered plane between Cameroon and the Democratic Republic of Congo on Saturday when aviation officials lost contact with the aircraft.

The plane was carrying mining executives and staff, including the Australian billionaire Ken Talbot, one of the country's richest men, whose company is developing an iron ore mine in the area.

Mr Casserly, who is believed to be in his early 30s, is based in London.

The Department of Foreign Affairs has said that it is 'aware of the situation' and is being assisted by Australian and British authorities in the area who are in contact with the Irish embassy in Nigeria.

Fog and thick jungle are hampering the search for the plane, Cameroonian and Congolese officials said today.

Both countries have sent up aircraft to try to spot the plane, which disappeared during a flight from Yaounde to northwest Congo Republic on Saturday with 11 people on board.

'The search is difficult because it is taking place in a densely forested zone and the weather is not good, there are problems with visibility,' said Tamphile Akoli Awaya, police commissioner at Brazzaville airport.

Cameroon's government said: 'All possible means are being mobilised to continue the search, but it will likely take some time because the aircraft got missing over vast and thick forest,' said Cameroon Information Minister Issa Tchiroma Bakary.

'It is like searching for a needle in the forest.'

It took two days for searchers to find a Kenya Airways Boeing 737 that crashed in Cameroon in 2007.

Aviation officials lost contact with the plane on Saturday about an hour after it took off from Yaounde en route to Yangadou in the northwest of Congo Republic.