At least 29 people were killed as a small aircraft crashed during takeoff in the city of Goma in the Democratic Republic of Congo on Sunday, AFP reported. The plane had 19 people on board and those dead also included people on the ground.
A survivor among the 19 people – 17 passengers and two crew members – who were aboard the plane was taken to hospital along with 16 others injured on the ground, the North Kivu regional government said. “At this stage, 29 bodies have been found in the rubble,” the statement added.
Deputy Transport Minister Jacques Yuma Kipuya said earlier that the Busy Bee Dornier-228 smashed into two houses near the airport.
Images from the scene showed black smoke rising and flames, apparently from the burning plane. Rescue workers were also seen at the spot, trying to look for survivors.
The Dornier-228 aircraft was headed to the city of Beni, 350 km from Goma, the news agency said. It came down in a residential area near the Goma airport. The cause of the crash is not yet known. Witnesses said they heard a loud sound, after which the pilot attempted to return the aircraft to the Goma airport, Al Jazeera reported.
“There were 17 passengers on board and two crew members,” Busy Bee airline staff member Heritier Said Mamadou said. “It took off around 9 to 9.10 am [12.30 to 12.40 pm Indian Standard Time].”
The United Nations mission in Congo said it sent an Emergency Crash and Rescue team with two fire engines to support local authorities. Meanwhile, residents of the area threw water from buckets and cooking pots on the wreck.
All of the Democratic Republic of Congo’s carriers are banned from operating in the European Union, because of lax safety standards, poor maintenance and frequent accidents, according to Al Jazeera. In October, a cargo plane carrying eight passengers and the crew had crashed at Goma airport, killing all of them.