On 20 December, a Gomair Antonov An-26B (9S-AGB – msn 13402) crashed in the mountainous region of Lukunga Mputa, near Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo. The cargo aircraft was chartered to the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) for the upcoming presidential election in the country and was returning to Kinshasa N’Djili from Tshikapa.
Around 40 km from Kinshasa Airport, the aircraft – build in 1984 and msn 13402 – was cleared to descend to 5,000 ft for an approach towards runway 06. The Antonov, however, disappeared from the radar and lost all contact with the tower. According to witnesses, the visibility around the airfield was rather low and it was raining.
The Congolese authorities didn’t deploy a rescue team to search for the aircraft, only 24 hours after the crash, the wreckage was found by locals. Today, Congolese authorities issued a statement confirming the accident (read below). In total, 7 bodies have been recovered from the crash site.
One witness explains to La Libre Afrique that the aircraft was in terrible shape: “The pilots complained that they had to take-off with very hot engines, this means that the engines are very tired. Besides, the aircraft had very few navigational instruments. It wasn’t raining that hard, but enough to endanger the landing of this old Antonov.”
According to the same source, the chances are high that the crew decided to transport additional passengers, who then are seated on the ground of the cargo aircraft: “It’s common that the crew decides to illegally and inhumanely transport passengers on the cargo floor, just to earn some extra money. I wouldn’t be surprised that another 20 passengers took the flight.”
There were 23 people aboard the plane, including the Russian crew. Seven people died, including three crew members. On December 21, Russia’s embassy in the Democratic Republic of the Congo confirmed the death of three Russian pilots – Ivan Masalov (born in 1955), Alexander Kretov (born in 1954) and Yevgeny Tarasov (born in 1959). Their relatives have submitted visa applications and are expected to arrive in Kinshasa soon. It is still unclear, whether the pilots had the insurance that would cover the expenses of transporting their bodies to Russia. If not, their employer Gomair will have to defray those costs. (Source: Tass)