GOMA, Democratic Republic of Congo (Reuters) - At least nine people were killed on Monday when a twin-propeller plane crashed as it tried to land in bad weather in the eastern Congolese town of Goma, the government said.
It was not immediately clear how many people were on board the Fokker 50, which was operated by domestic airline CAA. The flight was arriving from the town of Lodja, some 700 km (440 miles) to the west in Kasai-Oriental province, central Congo.
A government spokesman said that, as the plane was loaded with cargo, it was not carrying its full capacity of 50 passengers.
CAA declined to comment.
Democratic Republic of Congo has one of the world’s worst air safety records. There have been numerous crashes in Goma, the main town in the east, where the runway has not been fully repaired after a volcanic eruption in 2002 left it covered in lava.
“For the moment we have counted nine dead, passengers and crew,” said government spokesman Lambert Mende.
“No one on the ground was killed. The plane fell in an empty space, and because of the rain, no one was around. It was really lucky,” he added.
A Reuters reporter at the scene saw four bodies removed from the wreckage of the plane, which was lying in several pieces.
Local authorities said at least three people survived the crash.
The plane came down in heavy rain in a residential area near government offices and a base used by United Nations peacekeepers.
Mende said the plane had been in good condition: “It was a Fokker 50 ... I’d taken it many times myself.”
Reporting by Kenny Katombe; Additional reporting by Jonny Hogg in Kinshasa; Writing by David Lewis; Editing by Daniel Flynn and Robin Pomeroy