Sudanese government officials among 32 killed in plane crash

TALODI, SUDAN (BNO NEWS) -- A Sudanese government minister and scores of other senior officials were killed Sunday when their plane crashed into a mountain in the south of the country, officials said on Monday. The crash is believed to be the result of bad weather.

The accident happened on Sunday morning when the aircraft crashed into a mountain near the town of Talodi in South Kordofan state, about 53 kilometers (33 miles) from the border with South Sudan. The plane was carrying a total of 32 people to an Islamic festival in Talodi, where it was scheduled to land.

The Sudanese Civil Aviation Authority said the Antonov An-26 had taken off from Khartoum International Airport, located in the capital Khartoum, at around 6:02 a.m. local time. The agency said the aircraft belonged to Alfa Airlines, a new airline which has its headquarters in the Egyptian capital of Cairo.

The aircraft exploded when it flew into a mountain while preparing to land at a nearby airport in Talodi, where the government delegation was to celebrate the Eid al-Fitr festival to mark the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. "Before the plane was to land there was an explosion which was heard throughout the town," a spokesperson said, adding that the bodies of all 32 people on board the aircraft were recovered.

A statement from the office of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir identified the victims as six crew members and 26 passengers. The most senior victim was Guidance and Endowments Minister Ghazi al-Sadiq. Other victims were identified as state ministers, senior officials from the defense forces, and journalists from the country's state-run media.

Authorities said the crash was caused by bad weather, but other details were not immediately available.

Last month, seven Sudanese service members were killed when a military helicopter crashed in Sudan's troubled region of Darfur. The Russian-made Mi-17 helicopter went down just southwest of El Fasher, the capital of North Darfur, but there were conflicting reports whether it was caused by a technical fault or if it was shot down by the Sudan Liberation Movement/Army (SLA).

And in December 2011, all six people were killed when a military plane crashed about three minutes after taking off from an airport in Al-Ubayyid, the capital of North Kordofan state in southern Sudan. It followed a helicopter crash in April 2011, killing five Sudanese soldiers. Both crashes were blamed on technical failures.

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