Death Toll Rises in Congo Plane Crash


KINSHASA - 8 July 2010 - In a country plagued by civil war, genocide and marauding hoards who routinely terrorize the population and rape girls and women; it seems as if it could not bear another tragedy.  Yet, this was the case when a plane carrying 112 people crashed today at the airport of Kisangani in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

This is the second high-profile crash to occur in the Congo. In April, a United Nations' twin jet commuter type aircraft crashed while trying to land at Kinshasa International Airport killing 32 people.

The general director of the Hewa Bora Airways which operated the crashed aircraft stated that 72 people have died so far but that number is expected to rise as the wreckage of the Boeing 727 is cleared.  The flight, operated by Hewa Bora Airways, was flying its regular route from Kinshasa to Kisangani and Goma. The plane crash landed with the 112 passengers and crew and though it has yet to be confirmed, media reports are stating that there are as many as 53 survivors.

The cause of the crash is unknown but is suspected that the pilot misjudged the distance to the landing strip because of heavy storm weather.  It is surmised that  he tried to pull up but subsequently crashed in a nearby forest.  In a country where so much of the infrastructure and government services have been decimated, security and passenger safety measures taken for granted in the West are often lax

The result is overcrowding and excess baggage which exceed the aircraft's weight capacity.  The DRC transport minister was quoted in reports saying the death toll reached 127, with only 51 people surviving the tragedy.