Cargo plane crash in Sudan leaves seven dead with one survivor

Sunday, June 29, 2008

A file photo of a Russian An-12 in commercial use

An Antonov An-12 has crashed North of Upper Nile State capital Malakal, Sudan. Seven crewmembers were killed but an eighth escaped injury.

The aircraft, owned and operated by Juba Air Cargo, had departed Khartoum International Airport at 5:55 am (0255 GMT) and was an hour and ten minutes into its flight towards Juba Airport. Juba is the capital of Southern Sudan.

Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) spokesman Abdel Hafiz spoke with AFP, and told them "One person survived out of eight. His name is Mohamed Hamza, a Sudanese. Two Sudanese were among the dead (as were) four from Ukraine and one from Armenia," he said, adding "A thunderstorm hit the plane, as the survivor said, one of the crew. This apparently is the cause. The survivor is not injured but was taken to hospital (as a precaution)."

Those killed were removed from the wreckage and flown back to a Khartoum morgue.

The Sudan Media Centre (SMC), which is thought to be tied to the intelligence services, said the aircraft had returned to Sudan recently after major maintenance work in the United Arab Emirates. The SMC also agreed with he nationalities of the deceased, adding that one of the Sudanese was the pilot-in-command.

It said the surviving air operations officer had said the plane was struck twice by lightning. It also said the plane had been talking to Air Traffic Control in Khartoum at the time to request permission to reduce altitude to avoid the worst of the storm.

Major General Abdubaker Jafar, manager of the CAA, was quoted by the SMC as praising the quick emergency response, which was conducted with three helicopters owned by local companies.