Dozens feared dead in Congolese plane crash
Pilot tried to land Hewa Bora Airways plane in bad weather but missed the runway.
Fifty-three people were feared dead on Friday after a plane crash-landed in bad weather at Kisangani airport in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
"The pilot tried to land but apparently they didn't touch the runway," said Stavros Papaioannou, chief executive of the Congolese Hewa Bora airline. He warned that the death toll was likely to rise. A government spokesman, Lambert Mende, said he had been told that rescue services had pulled 40 survivors from the wreckage of the Boeing 727. The accident at the international airport of Kisangani, a local commercial centre and river port town, is the latest in a string of disasters that has saddled the vast central African country with one of the worst air-safety records in the world.
Hewa Bora is on an EU list of airlines banned amid security concerns, as are all carriers certified in Congo. It is the second fatal accident involving the airline in three years, after its DC-9 airliner ploughed into a suburb of the eastern Congolese city of Goma, killing 44 people, in 2008.
In April of this year, 32 people were killed when a UN plane crashed as it tried to land at the airport serving Congo's capital, Kinshasa. The operator of the plane was the Georgian flag carrier Airzena Georgian Airways.
According to Hewa Bora's website the airline has two Boeing 727s, both configured as passenger planes with 137 economy seats and 12 business class seats. They fly only within Congo.
Once the world's best-selling airliner, the Boeing 727 first flew in 1963 and was designed for short and medium-haul routes. The last aircraft was delivered in 1984.
Source: The Guardian