Bloomberg News

Congolese Plane Crash Death Toll Rises to 83, Probes Begin

July 13, 2011

(Updates with comment from minister in third paragraph.)

July 13 (Bloomberg) -- The number of people killed in a July 8 plane crash in Democratic Republic of Congo has risen to 83 as the country begins investigations, said Martin Kabwelulu, acting minister of transport.

The Hewa Bora Airways plane, a Boeing 727, was carrying 117 passengers and eight crew members when it tried to land in heavy rain in Kisangani and crashed into a forest, he told reporters in Kinshasa, the capital, today. It was the company’s second crash in just over three years. Congo created a commission of experts to determine the cause and will start a judicial probe, Kabwelulu said.

“Congo can no longer accept that events like this happen,” he said, adding that he would invite representatives of Chicago-based Boeing Co. and international aviation bodies to serve on the investigation team.

The crash may be blamed on the weather, said Stavros Papaioannou, chief executive officer of the airline. “The only way to see who is exactly responsible is after the analysis of the flight data recorder,” he said by phone from Kinshasa.

All of Congo’s airlines are prohibited from flying in the European Union, including Hewa Bora, according to the bloc’s list of banned carriers. In April 2008, a Hewa Bora Airways plane crashed on takeoff in Goma, killing 37 people on the ground, three on the plane, and injuring another 202.

Five people involved in the crash in Kisangani were not on the plane’s manifest, which listed only 112 passengers, Kabwelulu said. “The investigations by the judiciary and the commission need to find out who is responsible for that,” he said.

Papaioannou denied that there were 117 people on board the plane. He said there were 112 passengers and that some people used tickets registered under other names.

--Editors: Emily Bowers, Philip Sanders.

To contact the reporter on this story: Michael J. Kavanagh in Kinshasa at mkavanagh9@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Antony Sguazzin at asguazzin@bloomberg.net.


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