At least 23 people have been killed after a plane crashed into a densely populated area in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

According to reports the plane crashed shortly after taking off and sent plumes of black smoke billowing into the air.

Goma airport official Richard Mangolopa said no survivors were expected from the disaster.

The rescue service coordinator for the operation, Joseph Makundi, said: ‘We are up to 23 bodies now.’

The Dornier-228 aircraft belonged to the Busy Bee airline and was headed to Beni – a town 350 kilometres (220 miles) north of the crash site – at the time.

It is thought that there were 17 passengers on board as well as two members of crew.

Busy Bee, a newly-established private company, has three planes serving routes in the North Kivu province of the country.

Heritier Said Mamadou, a staff member with the airline, said: ‘There were 17 passengers on board and two crew members.

‘It took off around 9-9.10am (7am GMT).’

One of the company’s maintenance workers who was at the scene blamed a ‘technical problem,’ according to news site actuallite.cd

The U.N. mission in Congo said it sent an Emergency Crash and Rescue team with two fire engines to support the Congolese authorities.

The full number of casualties on the ground is not yet known.

 

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ZIMENE MUMAKONDA

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