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July 13, 2011

Death Toll in Congo Plane Crash Lowered to 75

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Written by: BNO News
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Authorities in the Democratic Republic of Congo have lowered the death toll from last week’s Hewa Bora Airways plane crash from 127 to 75, state-run media reported on Tuesday.

Kisangani airport Hewa Bora crash site

Both the government and the airline have been reluctant to release information since Hewa Bora Airways Flight 952, a Boeing 727, crashed on Friday while 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 (218 yards) from the airport.

The DR Congo Transport Ministry had initially said in a statement that 127 people were killed in the accident, but authorities later lowered the death toll to 90 and then to 82. On Thursday, the death toll was lowered to 75. No reason for the dramatic change was given.

A total of 118 people were on board the aircraft, 112 of them passengers and six crew members. The airline had earlier given inaccurate statements about the number of passengers and crew, in part because airlines in the African country do not always keep a complete passenger list.

On Monday, Prime Minister Adolphe Muzito visited many of the survivors at area hospitals. “Being deeply moved, Muzito made a great effort to control himself despite the horrific images of wounded parents and children, some of whom were badly burned,” state-run media reported on Tuesday. The regional governor accompanied the prime minister.

Hewa Bora operates both domestic and regional services but has a small fleet with less than 10 aircraft. 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.

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.

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