Home | News    Friday 11 July 2003

115 killed in Sudanese plane crash, child only survivor: official

By Mohamed Ali Saeed

KHARTOUM, July 8 (AFP) — A total of 115 people were killed when a Sudanese airliner crashed in eastern Sudan Tuesday after reporting technical problems, leaving a two-year-old boy as the sole survivor, official sources said.

The pilot of the Sudan Airways flight reported "technical problems" about 10 minutes after taking off Port Sudan on the Red Sea for the capital Khartoum, around 650 kilometers (400 miles) to the southwest, a government spokesman said.

He told the control tower he was trying to return to Port Sudan airport, but crashed on a strip of land near the Red Sea coast about 18 kilometers (11 miles) from the airport, the spokesman, Abdel Hamid Abdeen, told AFP.

"It was very close to the sea," he said, adding he did not know if the pilot was trying to make an emergency landing in the water. "We cannot say what he was intending to do."

There were no casualties on the ground, he added.

Most, if not all the dead were Sudanese, Abdeen said, adding that the child who survived the crash was most probably now in a Port Sudan hospital.

Sudan Airways later released a list of passenger names and ages that showed that 33 women and 14 children, including four babies, were on the flight. The passengers also included seven non-Sudanese but the list did not give a breakdown of the nationalities.

The state-run SUNA news agency reported meanwhile from its correspondent in Port Sudan that a two-year-old boy survived the crash, but had lost a leg and was being treated in a hospital in Port Sudan.

"All the passengers except the child are dead. The concern will now be how to collect the bodies," Abdeen said, adding that 11 crew members had also died.

A technical team was now on the site of the crash investigating what happened, he added.

"They’re going to release all the information they get as soon as possible, " he said.

State-run Omdurman Radio, quoting another government official, reported earlier that the aircraft was a Boeing 737 and had taken off around 4:00 a.m. (0100 GMT).

It quoted minister of state for aviation, Mohamed Hassan al-Bahi, as saying that he would travel to Port Sudan to investigate the reasons behind the crash.

In recent years, there have been no major civil airline disasters in Sudan, but a number of military planes have crashed.

A sandstorm was blamed for an accident in April 2002 that killed 14 senior officers, including the deputy defense minister who directed the war against rebels in southern Sudan.

In Upper Nile state in February 1998, a military plane crash killed the first vice president, General al-Zubair Mohammed Saleh, and 25 other people.

The accident occurred at the airport at Nassir, in the southern part of the state, when the plane missed an emergency landing.

In June 1999, 50 people, including six officers, died when a military plane crashed as a result of an unspecified technical problem in the eastern state of Kassala, near Ethiopia, the authorities said.