DR Congo plane crashes at Kisangani airport

Jul 08 2011

A passenger plane with 112 people on board has crashed at Kisangani airport in the Democratic Republic of Congo, officials say.

Up to 40 people have been found alive, but more than 50 others are known to have died, reports say.

The plane, operated by the Congolese airline Hewa Bora, had tried to land in bad weather after a flight from Kinshasa, officials said.

There is no confirmation of the type of aircraft involved.

"The pilot tried to land but apparently they didn't touch the runway," Hewa Bora chief executive Stavros Papaioannou told Reuters news agency.

Government spokesman Lambert Mende said the aircraft had crashed very close to the airport during a thunderstorm.

"We have already helped take out at least 40 survivors and the rescue operation is ongoing," he said.

Blacklisted airline

Hewa Bora is a private Congolese airline that runs scheduled flights from the capital, Kinshasa, to the central city of Kisangani and other destinations.

The firm is on a European Union airline blacklist over safety concerns.

Hewa Bora has been involved in four previous incidents of concern, according to the Aviation Safety Network website, including a 2008 crash when a DC-9 crashed on take-off in the Congolese town of Goma. More than 40 people died, most of them on the ground.

According to Hewa Bora's website, the airline has eight planes in its fleet: five MD-82s, two Boeing 727s and one Boeing 727-266 ER.

All other airlines certified by authorities in DR Congo are also on the EU blacklist.

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Reproduced under licence from BBC News © 2011 BBC

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