DR Congo plane crash kills 38

"This plane had on board, as well as the three crew members, 20 passengers who all died," the ministry of humanitarian affairs says in a statement.

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VIDEO: Crash aftermath

Fifteen were killed on the ground and 30 injured when the Antonov 26 crashed in the heavily-populated neighbourhood of Kimbaseke on the eastern outskirts of Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Unsuccessful take-off

The aircraft "messed up its take-off" for unknown reasons at the nearby international airport of Kinshasa-Ndjili and crashed, says Serge Mulumba, a senior official at the ministry.

The dead included two children aged seven and eight.

The injured included a mother and baby as well as at least nine other children, the ministry says.

A mechanic managed to escape from the wreckage but later died of his injuries.

Exploded on impact

Witnesses say the twin-engined plane burst into flames once it crashed, destroying around a dozen houses.

"There were several dead people in the houses," says Information Minister Toussaint Tshilombo Send.

"The aircraft is completely burned out," a senior police officer says at the scene.

The plane belonged to a private Congolese company on an EU safety blacklist and was headed for Tshikapa, 650 kilometres to the east in the central province of Kasai-Occidental.

The disaster was the fourth deadly plane accident since June in the DRC, which has a long record of such crashes.

The RVA national aviation authority sent firefighters to help poorly equipped city firemen tackle the blaze.

Recovery attempt

Rescue workers and local Red Cross teams went in to try to find and help survivors and start the grim task of pulling bodies out of the collapsed ruins of homes.

In 1996, a larger Antonov 32 hit a market in central Kinshasa, killing more than 300, while in May 2003 up to 200 people died on a flight between the capital and Lubumbashi in the southeast.

The Antonov's crew had informed airport authorities that five crew and 14 passengers were on board, but an RVA official says it was common practice to declare an incorrect passenger manifest in order to avoid taxes.

Airline banned in Europe

The Antonov 26, a twin-propeller transport aircraft whose design dates back to the 1960s, was made in Ukraine and is typical of the ageing fleet that has become an essential part of the transport infrastructure in the DR Congo.

Africa One is on an EU list of airlines banned in Europe because of safety concerns.

Only one of more than 50 companies in the central African nation, the privately owned Hewa Bora Airways, is exempted from that blacklist.

Though perilous because of poor maintenance, lack of infrastructure and the sheer age of much of the fleet, air transport is the most used way to get around the nation that stretches from Africa's western Atlantic coast to the Great Lakes in the centre.