Sunday, August 19, 2012

All 31 Passengers, Including Minister, Killed in Sudanese Plane Crash

A Sudanese civil plane carrying a ministerial delegation crashed early Sunday in Sudan's South Kordofan State, killing all 31 passengers, including a minister, an aviation official told Xinhua. 

"The plane, Antinov, belonging to a civil aviation company, left Khartoum at 6:00 a.m. local time (0300 GMT) carrying a ministerial delegation of 31 people," said Abdul-Hafez Abdul- Rahim, spokesperson of Sudan's Civil Aviation.

Among the killed was Minister of Guidance and Religious Endowments Ghazi al-Sadiq, the spokesman said.

"The plane flew over Taloudy airport in South Kordofan. An explosion was heard inside the mountains surrounding the area," he said, stressing "The plane crashed, killing all the people on board."

South Kordofan State has been recently witnessing armed clashes between the Sudanese army and rebels of the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA)/northern sector.

Abdul-Rahim did not exclude the assumption that the plane was exposed to a hostile act, but said "there are ongoing investigations to know the facts about the incident."

"We cannot tell exactly what happened now," he said.

Sudan has seen several plane crashes in recent years.

On June 20, 2012, a Sudanese military training aircraft crashed at the air base in Port-Sudan city in eastern the country, leaving its two-member crew killed.

On December 30, 2011, six crew members were killed when a military helicopter crashed in the western region of Darfur.

In 2008, at least 11 were killed in two cargo plane crashes in Sudan.

 A Sudanese government minister was among up to 31 people killed after a plane crashed in southern Sudan. 

 Guidance and Religious Endowments Minister Ghazi al Sadiq Abdel Rahim was on board the flight, which came down in mountains in war-torn South Kordofan state.

It was landing at Talodi for a function marking the Muslim Eid holiday when it crashed.

Abdelhafiz Abdelrahim, a spokesman for the Sudan Aviation Authority, said: "All people on board were killed."

He added that the aircraft was landing this morning when "an explosion was heard and the plane was destroyed" and that 31 people including the flight crew were killed.

Oil-producing South Kordofan borders South Sudan, which seceded more than a year ago. The border state has been the site of an insurgency since shortly before South Sudan's independence.

A spokesman for the main rebel group in the area, the Sudan People's Liberation Movement North, said it had nothing to do with the plane crash.

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