More than 50 survivors in DRC crash

2011-07-08 22:15

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Kinshasa - A plane carrying 112 people crashed as it attempted to land in stormy weather in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) on Friday, but at least 53 people have survived, the air company said.

The plane, operated by Hewa Bora Airways, crashed at Kisangani airport in the northeast of the country.

"We don't know how many people are dead but there are at least 53 survivors from a total 112 passengers and personnel crew," the airline's director Stavros Papaioannou, told AFP.

"The crew members of the Boeing 727 are the first (confirmed) dead," Papaioannou said.

"They arrived at Kisangani, there was bad weather, they tried to land without reaching the runway," he continued, adding that heavy rains at the time had hampered the rescue operation.

The plane was on its regular commercial route from Kinshasa to Kisangani and Goma when it was hit by the storm as it approached the airport, Lambert Mende, a spokesman for the local administration said.

A plume of black smoke could be seen at the end of the runway, an AFP journalist reported. But flights, which had been suspended after the crash, resumed a short time later.

Plane accidents frequently occur in the DRC which are often blamed on ageing and poorly maintained aircraft, the flouting of safety rules and bad weather.

Each of its 50 or so airlines has been blacklisted by the European Union which has banned them from its airspace.

A UN aircraft crashed as it tried to land in a storm in Kinshasa in April, killing 32. One person survived in one of the worst disasters ever involving UN transport.

The Bombardier CRJ-100 plane, run by the UN mission in the DRC, Monusco, was destroyed when it hit the ground as the pilot tried to land in torrential rain.

The plane was carrying 29 passengers - mainly UN officials and peacekeepers - and a four person crew on a regular UN flight from Kisangani to Kinshasa's N'Djili airport.

In August last year 20 people were killed after a plane flown by the head of a local airline crashed during landing in the west of the country.

- SAPA

Read more on:    drc  |  air travel  |  east africa

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