23 killed in plane crash in eastern DR Congo

Goma [DR Congo]: At least 23 bodies were recovered after a small plane crashed in a peripheral area in the eastern city of Goma in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

The plane, operating by a local company Busy Bee, crashed into houses a few minutes after taking off from Goma airport for a flight to the city of Beni, according to the governor of North Kivu in eastern DR Congo, airport officials told Xinhua news agency.

Heritier Said Mamadou, an airline staff member, was quoted as saying that the plane was carrying 17 passengers and two crew members.

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No passengers survived, including the two crew members, according to Xinhua sources close to the governor’s office of North Kivu province and Hospital General De Goma.

The dead are believed to include all those on board the plane as well as people on the ground.

According to sources close to the company Busy Bee, a loud detonation of one of the engines was heard a few moments after the takeoff of the aircraft. The pilot was reportedly tried to return to his starting point.

Airport and UN peacekeeping mission in Congo (MONUSCO) tried to extract the bodies of the victims trapped in the debris of the aircraft that was completely burned by the impact of the crash.

Images from the scene showed plumes of black smoke and flames from the burning plane as locals looked on. Rescue workers combed through the burned-out fuselage.

Busy Bee is one of the few local aviation companies serving the North and South Kivu province for many years. According to sources within the company, the engine of the plane that crashed had been changed and it was the first flight after the maintenance of the aircraft.

This airline company organises scheduled flights in the northeastern part of the country, especially the city of Beni, Butembo and nearby areas.

Air accidents are relatively frequent in the DRC because of lax safety standards and poor maintenance.

All of the country’s commercial carriers, including Busy Bee, are prohibited from operating in the European Union.

In October, a cargo plane also departing from the same airport crashed an hour after take-off, killing all eight passengers and crew.

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