The aircraft, operated by local company Busy Bee, was en route to the city of Beni, about 250 km to the north, North Kivu Governor Carly Nzanzu Kasivita’s office said in a statement.
An official from Busy Bee, who asked not to be named, said the 19-seater Dornier 228-200 crashed with 16 passengers and two crew on board.
A Reuters witness at the scene of the crash said two people were rescued before the plane exploded. It was unclear how many others on the ground may have been killed or injured.
Air accidents are relatively frequent in Congo because of lax safety standards and poor maintenance. All Congolese commercial carriers, including Busy Bee, are banned from operating in the European Union.
A cargo plane departing from the same airport crashed an hour after take-off in October, killing all eight passengers.