At least 5 officials dead in Sudan helicopter crash

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A helicopter crashed on Sunday in eastern Sudan, killing at least five local officials who were on board, state media reported.

Witnesses said the helicopter caught fire after hitting a communications tower as it tried to land in a field in the state of Al-Qadarif.

"Flames and thick dark smoke rose from the aircraft," one of the witnesses, Adam Hassan, said.

Al-Qadarif governor Mirghani Saleh, his cabinet chief, the local minister of agriculture as well as the local police chief and head of border guards were killed, state television said.

It did not give details about the circumstances of the crash near the border with Ethiopia, or say if there were any survivors.

Sudan's state news agency SUNA gave a slightly higher toll of six government officials killed.

It said an unspecified number of other people were taken to hospital for treatment, without providing further details.

Most of Sudan's military and civilian fleet consists of old Soviet-made aircraft, and the country has suffered a series of crashes in recent years, with the military frequently blaming technical problems and bad weather.

In October eight people were injured in a collision between two Sudanese army planes on the runway at Khartoum airport.

Weeks earlier in September, two pilots were killed when their military jet crashed near Omdurman, Khartoum's twin city on the west bank of the Nile.

That accident came days after a military helicopter crashed and caught fire on landing in Darfur, though all passengers were rescued.

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