Fifty-three feared dead in Congo plane crash


By Bienvenu-Marie Bakumanya | Reuters

KINSHASA (Reuters) - Fifty-three people were feared dead on Friday after a plane crashed as it tried to land in bad weather at Kisangani airport in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, the Congolese airline operating the flight said.

“The pilot tried to land but apparently they didn’t touch the runway,” Stavros Papaioannou, chief executive of Hewa Bora airline, told Reuters by telephone.

“Fifty-three dead, that is the last figure I have,” he said later, cautioning that the toll was likely to be revised.

Separately, 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 center 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 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 plowed into a suburb of the eastern Congolese city of Goma, killing 44, in 2008.

In April of this year, 32 people were killed when a United Nations plane crashed as it tried to land at the airport serving Congo’s capital Kinshasa. The operator of the plane was 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 purely 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.

The Aviation Herald is reporting it as 727-030 9Q-COP a 46 year-old airplane first owned by Lufthansa.

Death toll now at 127, and 51 survivors… … 1-survive/

KINSHASA (Reuters) - The death toll in a plane crash in Democratic Republic of Congo on Friday has risen to 127, and 51 people survived the crash, the transport ministry said in a statement.

A ministry spokesman said the airline, Hewa Bora, had underestimated the number of people on the plane.

Hewa Bora chief executive Stavros Papaioannou told Reuters earlier that there had been 110 people on board the plane, of whom 53 had died and 57 survived.

That deathtoll would have to include people on the ground because I highly doubt that 178 people were on a 727.

Doesn’t the 727-200 seat about 190 pax max?

Yes, but this appears to have been a 727-100 with a nominal capacity of 129. In parts of the world like Africa overloading is a common practice but unless they were children, an extra 50 does sound a bit much.

Most 727-200’s sat around 150 in 2 class configuration, however, yes it was certificated to seat 189 so it is possible they could’ve had 178 on board if it was a -200.

However, this was indeed a 727-100 which was only certificated to 149. Add in 3 cockpit crew+1 cockpit jumpseat+3 FA’s+1 FA jumpseat and I only see space for 157.

ASN has updated to a correction of:
Total onboard: 6 crew+112 pax
Total Fatalities: 74 … 0110708-0/

The aircraft is believed to be 9Q-COP c/n 18933, a 727-030 originally delivered to Lufthansa in 1965. However that aircraft was converted into a VIP configuration in 1990 so it’s possible that’s the wrong c/n.

Here’s a pic of the aircraft in Hewa Bora colors taken last may, apparently airworthy: … d3f49691c9

Recent news articles still have conflicting reports on the death toll and the number of souls onboard, but it appears the numbers are more inline with passenger capacity of a 727-100

Death toll from DR Congo plane crash lowered to 75

Congo minister: 85 dead in last week’s plane crash

Something must be getting lost in translation along the way. The number 127 reported as dead earlier is apparently the number of souls onboard (or a close approximation).