South Sudan plane crash: Dozens killed near Juba airport


The plane came down on the east bank of the White Nile River
A cargo plane has crashed on take-off near the international airport in South Sudan’s capital Juba, killing at least 36 people.

South Sudan’s transport minister says two people were found alive, but one of them later died. Earlier an official had said there were three survivors.
It is not yet known how many were killed on the plane, or on the ground.

The Antonov An-12 plane was heading to Paloch, Upper Nile State, and crashed 800m (half a mile) from the runway.
Transport Minister Kuong Danhier Gatluak told AP that 36 people were confirmed dead.
But a police officer and eyewitness told Reuters they had seen 41 bodies.

Presidential spokesman Ateny Wek Ateny said the plane was carrying 18 people, including six crew members. All of the passengers were from South Sudan, he added.

He also said that three people, including a child, had survived the crash, but Mr Gatluak later told AP that only two people had been found alive and one of them, the adult, later died.

Mr Ateny suggested reports of a higher death toll could be down to some people being killed on the ground, adding that he had not yet had confirmation of this.
The head of the Civil Aviation at Juba airport said emergency officials had secured the site of the crash and were “in the stage of recovering bodies and black box”.
“We cannot give you the exact number,” Stephen Warikozi added.

The crash left a tail fin and lumps of fuselage strewn in the vegetation close to the water.

Mr Ateny said five of the six crew members were Armenian, while the sixth member was Russian. Armenia’s foreign ministry has confirmed that five of its nationals were killed.

While it is not yet clear what caused the crash, the presidential spokesman told a news conference that it may have been down to engine failure.

Police were seen pulling the bodies of men, women and children from the wreckage of the plane, with debris and cargo strewn over a wide area along a bank of the White Nile River.
‘Landed near my door’

The plane struck a farming community on an island on the river.

A man who saw the plane come down told AP he thought the plane might crash into a market area, but the pilot seemed to divert it at the last minute.

Another witness said he saw a child and elderly woman pulled out alive from the wreckage.

Meanwhile, a local farmer has described the moment the plane started to go down, telling AFP: “The sound was so loud… the plane started descending and landed near my door.”

“One of the tyres broke off and ran into the house – but thank God it did not injure anyone.”
Mr Ateny said the plane was heading towards the Paloch oil fields in the north of the country.
Cargo planes to remote parts of South Sudan often carry passengers too.

The plane’s first flight was in 1971, the Aviation Safety Network reported. It was being operated by Allied Services Limited, a logistics company based in South Sudan, at the time of the crash.

However, the plane belonged to the Tajik company Asia Airways, Tajikistan’s Transport Ministry told the Ozodagon news agency.

The Antonov State Company, which built the plane, is a Ukrainian aircraft manufacturing company.

Officials are investigating the wreckage

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