Southern Sudan’s Minister of Defence and a presidential adviser were among at least 23 people killed on Friday in a plane crash blamed on engine failure, officials said.
Dominic Dim, the south’s Defence Minister, and Justin Yak, a presidential adviser for local government affairs, were on the plane that crashed near the southern town of Rumbek, the southern government officials said.
”Twenty-one passengers were killed and either two or three crew members,” First Vice-President Salva Kiir told a news conference. ”Two engines failed and there was nothing the pilot could do.”
Yak’s wife was also among the dead, said a southern government official.
The former southern rebel group SPLM signed a 2005 accord with the northern National Congress Party, ending Africa’s longest civil war. Dim also had ministerial responsibility for the SPLA, which is the armed wing of the SPLM.
South Sudan Information Minister Gabriel Changson Chang said the site had been cordoned off and the government would investigate the crash.
The UN said the plane was a Beechcraft 1900 operated by South Sudan Air Connection travelling from Wau to Juba with 21 passengers on board. The Juba-based airline operates flights in southern Sudan.
”[United Nations head Ashraf] Qazi has also offered deepest sympathy on behalf of the United Nations … to the bereaved families of the crash victims,” the United Nations said in a statement.
The United Nations would fly government and air safety officials to the crash site to facilitate investigations.
Nineteen of the dead were military officials, local daily Sudan Tribune reported on its website.
Dim, who was a major general in the army, was appointed to his post last July in a cabinet reshuffle.
Former Southern rebel leader John Garang was killed in a helicopter crash three years ago. His widow has called his death an assassination, despite an official investifation that blamed pilot error. – Reuters