<![CDATA[[caption id="attachment_141466" align="aligncenter" width="660"] The plane spun in the air three times before crashing, a witness says[/caption]
At least 27 people have died after a passenger plane crashed into houses in the city of Goma in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, local officials say.The victims included nine people from the same family who were in one of the houses hit in the Mapendo area. The small aircraft went down shortly after taking off from the city’s airport on Sunday morning. The cause of the crash is still unclear. The plane was carrying 17 passengers and two crew members, officials say. Air accidents are relatively frequent in DR Congo amid lax safety standards and poor maintenance, and all the country’s commercial carriers are banned from operating in the European Union. What is known about the air disaster? The Dornier-228 twin-turboprop aircraft – owned by private carrier Busy Bee – crashed about a minute after take-off, a source at Goma airport told the BBC. The plane had been scheduled to fly to Beni, 350km (220 miles) north of Goma. A witness, Djemo Medar, said he saw the plane “spinning three times in the air and emitting a lot of smoke”. “When the plane crashed many of us rushed there, we know the pilot, his name is Didier; he was shouting ‘Help me, help me’, but we had no way to get to him because the fire was so powerful,” he told Reuters news agency.
Sources said the plane experienced engine failure right after take-off, the BBC’s Emery Makumeno reports from the capital, Kinshasa. It was not immediately known how many residents were in their homes when the plane crashed. North Kivu regional governor Nzanzu Kasivita offered his condolences to the families of survivors. The BBC has contacted Busy Bee for comment.