127 dead as plane crashes at airport

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The Independent Online

An airliner ploughed into dense forest as it tried to land during a rainstorm in the Democratic Republic of Congo yesterday, killing 127 people on board.

There were 51 survivors, a statement from the Congolese Transport Ministry said.

The chief executive of the airline said earlier that there had been 110 people on board the plane, of whom 53 had died and 57 survived. But a spokesman for the Transport Ministry, Gudile Bualya, accused the airline of underestimating the number of passengers.

The accident at the international airport of Kisangani, a commercial centre and river port town in the east, is the latest in a string of disasters in the vast central African country which has saddled the Congo with one of the worst air safety records in the world.

"The pilot tried to land but apparently they didn't touch the runway," said Stavros Papaioannou, chief executive of Hewa Bora airline. Hewa Bora is on a European Union list of airlines banned due to 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, in 2008. Reuters

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