Investigators have retrieved the flight recorders from the Hewa Bora Airways McDonnell Douglas DC-9 which crashed into a residential and commercial area of Goma in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.

The country's United Nations mission, MONUC, says its personnel have assisted local authorities in recovering the devices from the wreckage of the jet.

But there is still confusion over the number of casualties. MONUC says that it cannot fully verify how many passengers and individuals on the ground were killed and injured.

Related Flight content 


"It seems that the majority of deaths are from those in the houses that surround the airport," says the country's UN deputy special representative Ross Mountain. "But we also heard that many passengers were able to exit alive from the aircraft."

MONUC's latest estimate is that the crash resulted in 40 fatalities. Figures from the Congolese division of the Red Cross humanitarian agency suggest the jet had 90 occupants.

There is no clear indication as to the circumstances of the 15 April accident. The aircraft was departing on a domestic service to Kinshasa, via Kisangani, but carved into the Birere district of Goma whose outskirts lie barely 100m (330ft) from the southern end of Goma Airport's runway.

Early reports suggest a technical problem occurred during departure. One, citing the region's governor, states that the aircraft's crew reported loss of thrust from one of the Pratt & Whitney JT8D engines, and that the pilots attempted to abort the take-off.

Images of the DC-9's empennage show the starboard engine's thrust-reverser in the deployed position, although it is unclear whether this is the result of impact forces or activation before the accident.

The European Commission has a blanket ban on air transport operations from Democratic Republic of Congo, including those of Hewa Bora Airways, because of its dissatisfaction with regulatory oversight.

"Unfortunately there is much to repair in the country," says Mountain. "It is necessary to look at how the regulations can be reinforced, it is a question of management of the aircraft, maintenance for the airports - there's a lot of work to be done."

Related Flight content