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Four dead in Sudan cargo plane crash

A cargo plane crashed in Sudan on Monday shortly after taking off from Khartoum airport, killing four crew members, a spokesperson for the Civil Aviation Authority said.

It is the fourth plane crash in Sudan in two months.

”A cargo plane which is a Russian plane from the Ababeel cargo company crashed. On board were four crew members who are dead and two corpses have been recovered so far,” said spokesperson Abdel Hafez Abdel Rahim.

He said the plane crashed at about 7am (4am GMT), but added: ”It’s too early to say what happened and what was the cause.”

”The whole plane blew up in a fireball as it lifted off,” said one witness waiting at the airport.

He said the left wing appeared to drop as the plane took off and that it crashed in wasteland on the edge of Khartoum airport.

Firetrucks rushed to the scene to put out the smoking wreckage, the witness said.

The plane, which was headed to the southern Sudanese capital of Juba, is the second cargo plane to crash in Sudan in just a few days.

On Friday, a cargo plane crashed in mid-flight after taking off from Khartoum, killing seven crew members, including one Armenian and four Ukranians.

Sudan has a poor aviation record and the crash was the fourth fatal aviation accident in Africa’s biggest country since May.

On June 10, a Sudan Airways Airbus carrying 214 people burst into flames after landing at Khartoum International Airport, killing at least 30 people.

Airport authorities said an engine caught fire, spreading to the fuselage, while survivors said weather conditions at the time of the landing were poor, owing to a sandstorm followed by heavy showers.

This week Sudan Airways was granted a one-month reprieve from the Civil Aviation Authority over its flight worthiness after an initial announcement that it had been grounded for not meeting international standards.

In May, south Sudan’s defence minister was killed in a plane crash along with at least 22 other people, most of them senior members of the southern former rebel leadership.

In July 2003, 115 people were killed when a Sudan Airways Boeing 737 was destroyed in a ball of fire as it attempted to land at Port Sudan after apparently suffering an engine problem soon after takeoff.

After that crash, the Khartoum government said the Sudanese air fleet was growing old as it was unable to buy spare parts for its United States-made aircraft due to economic sanctions imposed by Washington.

Washington, which has placed Khartoum on a blacklist of countries supporting terrorism, says the sanctions do not prevent the delivery of spare parts for aircraft if they are requested. – Sapa-AFP

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Jennie Matthew
Matthews is an AFP New York correspondent. Previously in Pakistan/Afghanistan, Sudan and Middle East

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