1948 Sabena DC-4 Crash

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1948 Sabena DC-4 Crash
KLM PH-TAR Douglas DC-4.jpg
A KLM DC-4, similar to the accident aircraft
Date 12 May 1948 (1948-05-12)
Summary Extreme weather conditions
Site 27km South of Libenge
Aircraft type Douglas DC-4-1009
Operator Sabena
Registration OO-CBE
Flight origin Léopoldville-N'Djili Airport (FIH/FZAA), Congo (Democratic Republic)
Destination Libenge Airport (LIE/FZFA), Congo (Democratic Republic)
Passengers 25
Crew 7
Fatalities 31
Injuries 1
Survivors 1

The 1948 Sabena DC-4 Crash was the crash of a Douglas DC-4-1009 of the Belgian airline Sabena, 27 km South of Libenge, Congo (Democratic Republic) on 12 May 1948. It was the deadliest accident for Sabena at the time and the second of three deadly Sabena crashes in 1948. It was also the deadliest in Belgian Congo before the country's independence in 1960, of the 32 people on board 31 were killed, leaving only 1 survivor.[1]


The DC-4-1009 involved was built in 1946 and bought new from Douglas with serial number 42932 and registration OO-CBE and was used by the Belgian airline company Sabena from 17 April 1946 until its destruction in 1948.[2] The aircraft was mostly used in Belgian Congo and carried Regent Prince Charles of Belgium back to Belgium on 13 August 1947 after his official visit to Congo.[3]


The Sabena flight departed from Léopoldville-N'Djili Airport, Congo Democratic Republic en route to Libenge Airport, Congo Democratic Republic with 25 passengers and 7 crew members on board.[4]

Probable cause[edit]

While above the Congo rainforest, 27 km South of Libenge, at an altitude of 700 feet, the aircraft probably penetrated a very turbulent line of clouds or flew the aircraft into the active centre of a tornado at a low altitude. The aircraft was probably then forced to the ground by a down-ward gust.,[5]

The aircraft hit the tree-tops and left a 200 m (660 ft) trail through the forest until it finally crashed, killing all 7 crew members and 24 of the 25 passengers,[5] the sole survivor was an Egyptian man named Moutafis.


The wreck was located the following day and the injured sole survivor was rescued. Rescuers searched for more survivors, but it quickly became clear that their efforts were in vain. This crash was the second deadly crash of three involving a Sabena aircraft in 1948, making 1948 the deadliest year in Sabena's history.[6]


  1. ^ Rampen in België. Lannoo Uitgeverij. 2005. p. 67. ISBN 978-90-209-6216-1.
  2. ^ "Registration Details For OO-CBE (Sabena) DC-4-1009". planelogger.com. 2015. Retrieved 3 April 2016.
  3. ^ "Sabena part 2". sbap.be. 2014. Retrieved 3 April 2016.
  4. ^ "OO-CBE". planecrashinfo.com. Retrieved 3 April 2016.
  5. ^ a b "Accident description". aviation-safety.net. 1996. Retrieved 3 April 2016.
  6. ^ "Only one survivor believed on plane in Belgian Congo crash". chicago Tribune. 15 May 1948. Retrieved 3 April 2016.