Scores dead in DR Congo plane crash

July 8, 2011 at 5:14 PM
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KISANGANI, Democratic Republic of Congo, July 8 (UPI) -- Scores of passengers died Friday in the crash of a plane trying to land at Kisangani in the Democratic Republic of Congo, authorities said.

Casualty figures were unclear, but Britain's Daily Telegraph said at least 53 people were killed on the Boeing 727, which was carrying 112 people.

The airline that operates the plane, Hewa Bora (meaning "Fresh Air" in Swahili), said at least 53 people survived.

Chairman Stavros Papaioannou said the plane took off from the Congolese capital, Kinshasa, 2 1/2 hours before it crashed around 3 p.m.

"I confirm the crash of one of our planes," he said. "The pilot tried to land but apparently they didn't touch the runway."

Hewa Bora, like other Congolese airlines, is banned from flying into European airspace because of its poor safety record. It runs two 727s, none delivered after 1984.

In 2008, a 31-year-old Hewa Bora DC-9 airliner had an engine fire after takeoff from Goma and crashed, killing 44 people, most of them on the ground.

Months later, a Hewa Bora plane went down in bad weather, killing all 17 people aboard.

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