DR. Congo suspends airline licence after deadly crash

KINSHASA, July 14, 2011 (AFP) - Authorities in Democratic Republic of Congo said Thursday they had temporarily suspended the operating licence of Hew Bora Airways following a crash in which 83 people died.

A transport ministry official said the move was ordered late Wednesday "pending an investigation, until further notice."

The ministry said 83 people died and 38 survived when the Boeing 727 operated by Hewa Bora crashed at Kisangani airport in the country's northeast on July 8 as it attempted to land in heavy rain with 112 passengers and six crew on board.

The plane was on a regular commercial route from Kinshasa to Kisangani and Goma when it hit a storm on its approach to the airport.

The national Association of Air Traffic Controllers (ACCA) said two controllers and a fire officer at Kisangani airport were detained following the July 8 accident.

"The two controllers were blamed for providing faulty guidance to the Boeing 727 and the driver of the fire engine for arriving late" on the scene, said ACCA president Godard Wamba.

It is the second accident involving a Hew Bora aircraft in three years. In April 2008, a DC-9 crashed in a district of the eastern city of Goma, killing 50 people.

Plane accidents are frequent in DR Congo, often blamed on ageing and poorly maintained aircraft, the flouting of safety rules and bad weather.

Each of its 50 or so airlines has been blacklisted by the European Union.

In early April a UN plane missed its landing at Kinshasa due to bad weather, causing 32 deaths.

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