Aviation News

July 10, 2011

At Least 127 People Killed in Congo Plane Crash

At least 127 people were killed Friday when an airliner missed the runway and crashed in bad weather while attempting to land at an airport in the Democratic Republic of Congo, according to published reports.

Kisangani airport Hewa Bora crash site

The accident happened at around 3 p.m. local time on Friday when Hewa Bora Airways Flight 952, a Boeing 727-100 (9Q-COP), was attempting to land during bad weather at Bangoka International Airport in Kisangani, the capital of Tshopo province. The aircraft crashed in a wooded area about 200 meters from the airport.

A spokeswoman for the airline on Saturday raised the total number of people on board the aircraft to 116, up from 112 reported on Friday. Airlines in the African country often carry extra passengers beyond the formal passenger list. “There were 109 passengers [and] seven crew members,” the spokeswoman said, adding that there were both fatalities and survivors.

But the airline declined to give specific details about the number of casualties and survivors, saying rescue operations were continuing on Saturday afternoon. Photos from the scene showed that most of the aircraft had been destroyed and several fires could be seen burning in the wreckage.

Also on Saturday, the Boeing Company confirmed that one of its 727 aircraft crashed in the Democratic Republic of Congo on Friday. “Boeing stands ready to provide technical assistance to the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) of the Democratic Republic of the Congo through the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB),” a brief statement said.

Because of safety and security concerns, Hewa Bora and all other airlines in the Democratic Republic of Congo have been banned from operating in the European Union. Hewa Bora operates both domestic and regional services but has a small fleet with less than 10 aircraft.

In April 2008, at least 40 people were killed and more than 100 others were injured when Hewa Bora Airways Flight 122 crashed into a residential area of Goma, a city in eastern DR Congo. Most of the casualties were on the ground.