Russian pilot among Sudan crash dead

2012-08-20 22:17

Khartoum - A Russian pilot was among the victims on a plane which crashed in Sudan's war-torn South Kordofan, killing all 32 people aboard, Moscow's embassy confirmed on Monday.

"He was the captain," Yury Vidakas, the embassy's press officer, said.

Vidakas could not immediately provide the name of the pilot, whom he said was "on private contract" with Alfa Airlines that operated the Antonov charter flight which crashed on Sunday.

Several small airline companies in Sudan use pilots from the former Soviet Union.

Vidakas said there was only one Russian among the dead and he did not know where the other five crew members were from.

26 dead

The official SUNA news agency said all 26 passengers, including top government officials, generals and journalists, also died in the crash.

They were members of a delegation, led by Khartoum's Guidance and Endowments Minister Ghazi Al-Saddiq, travelling to the South Kordofan town of Talodi for a ceremony to mark the start of Eid, at the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.

The plane "crashed into a hill" because of bad weather, killing the entire delegation, Culture and Information Minister, Ahmed Bilal Osman, said on official radio.

Accidents are common among Sudan's ageing fleet of aircraft.

Europe bans all Sudanese airlines, including Alfa, for safety reasons.

Four Russian crew on an Ilyushin cargo plane were killed in 2008 when it crashed shortly after takeoff from Khartoum.

Rebels in South Kordofan have been battling government troops since June last year but said they had nothing to do with the crash, which happened in a government-controlled area.