Sudan state helicopter crash kills 32

2012-08-19 16:15
Sudan helicopter crash

Sudan helicopter crash

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Khartoum - A Sudanese government helicopter crashed Sunday before landing in a remote town in the country's southern mountains, killing all 32 people on board. The victims included the minister of endowment, a leading politician, two army generals and a TV crew.

The delegation was travelling to the volatile South Kordofan state to attend prayers on the first day of the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of the fasting month of Ramadan.

The helicopter crashed "due to harsh weather conditions" in a mountainous area near Talodi, a small town about 650km, southwest of the capital, Khartoum, according to the state-run news agency, Suna.

A Sudanese official said the aircraft slammed into a mountain just before it was to land in Talodi and blamed "zero visibility" due to the seasonal heavy rains in the region. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to speak to the media.

He said a search team that reached the site of the crash was having trouble identifying the victims as many bodies were charred and torn into pieces.

The office of Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir released a list of all 26 passengers and six crew members who perished in the crash.

Minister of Endowment Ghadi al-Sadeq and a leading member of Sudan's Peace and Justice Party, Makki Balayela, were on the list, as were two generals and other officials. A four-member TV crew from Sudan's state television also died in the crash.

Sudan has a poor aviation safety record, with a large number of jet accidents occurring on landing. In late 2010, a plane carrying 36 people crashed on landing in Sudan's western Darfur region, killing at least two people.

And in May 2008 - before South Sudan became a separate country - a plane crash in a remote area in the south killed 24 people, including key members of the regional southern Sudanese government.

Five years earlier, a Sudan Airways Boeing 737 en route from Port Sudan to Khartoum crashed soon after take-off, killing all 115 people on board.

- AP
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