"They had just 35 minutes of fuel remaining, so they couldn’t go any further," Democratic Republic of Congo Transport Minister Matthieu Pita told Reuters on Tuesday.

"The pilot took the risk, and, thank God, everything went well. There were no injuries and no damage," Pita said of the overnight landing in the town of Gbadolite.

Bad weather had prevented the plane from making a scheduled refueling stopover in Central African Republic as it brought Motlanthe back from an African Union summit in Tripoli, Libya.

Pita said a jet was being dispatched to the airport to pick up the delegation.

Once used to shuttle Congo’s former dictator Mobutu Sese Seko to his palatial jungle retreat, the airport in Gbadolite has since fallen into ruins. Pita said fuel will be transported to the airstrip to extract the plane.