By MOHAMMED OSMAN Associated Press Writer
KHARTOUM, Sudan, Nov 17, 2003 (AP) — A cargo plane exploded in the air and crashed near the city of Wau in southern Sudan on Monday, killing all 13 people on board, an airline official said.
The Soviet-built Antonov-12 was coming from the capital Khartoum and exploded as it approached Wau airport for landing at 4:30 p.m. (1330GMT), said Mohammed Abdul Qadir, general manager of the Saria private aviation company. Wau is 850 kilometers (about 500 miles) south of Khartoum.
Abdul Qadir declined to speculate on the cause of the explosion. Southern Sudan frequently saw fighting in the last 20 years in civil war between the Muslim-dominated government and Christian and animist rebels, but there have been no hostilities recently as the two sides try to reach a peace settlement. Sudan also has regularly seen air crashes because of its aging fleet.
All on board died, including the six-member foreign crew - four from Armenia and one each from Russia and Uzbekistan, Abdul Qadir said. The rest of the victims were Sudanese, he said.
"The trip was a regular ... commercial trip to Wau," he told The Associated Press. "The plane exploded four kilometers from the (Wau) airport as it prepared to land after it had clearance from the control tower."
The plane was carrying wheat and other foodstuff, plus a money shipment from the Bank of Sudan, Abdul Qadir said.
The government has made no official report on the accident. Abdul Qadir said a technical committee would arrive in Wau Tuesday to investigate the explosion.