Dozens of people were believed killed when a Sudan airways plane caught fire after veering off the runway at Khartoum's airport and burst into flames. More than 200 passengers were thought to be aboard the plane when it landed late Tuesday.
According to reports quoting Sudan state television, ambulances and fire trucks rushed to the scene to put out the blaze. The plane had just arrived from Amman, Jordan when the accident occurred.
Sudan has a poor aviation record. In May, a plane crashed in a remote area of southern Sudan, killing 23 people, including key members of the south Sudan government. In July 2003, a Sudan Airways plane crashed soon after takeoff near Port Sudan, killing 115 people.
James Kok Ruae is minister for foreign trade in the national unity government of Sudan. Speaking to VOA as a concerned citizen from Khartoum, he said the plane landed in very bad weather.
“The Sudan airline was coming from Amman (Jordan). On its arrival to Sudan, especially Khartoum, there was very, very unacceptable situation in Khartoum. It was raining; there was a lot of dust, and I think through the process of it landing, something has gone wrong either with the landing gear or with the mechanics, and then the plane caught fire,” he said.
The plan was said Sudanese officials to be carrying more than 200 passengers when it landed late Tuesday. Ruae said the number of dead or survival was not immediately known as fire crews were still trying to put out the fire.
“As I’m talking to you, all our fire brigades, all our police, all the citizens concerned are all at the airport trying to put out the fire, but it is still burning. Until now, we have not exactly got the number of the dead and the survival because people are still trying to put down the fire,” Ruae said.
In May, a plane crashed in a remote area of southern Sudan, killing 23 people, including key members of the southern Sudanese government. In July 2003, a Sudan Airways plane crashed soon after takeoff near Port Sudan, killing 115 people.
Ruae concurred the rash of airplane accidents recently could be blamed in part on Sudan’s poor aviation record.
“I will agree with you the safety is not up to international standard because so many air accidents are happening, and this goes back to safety because we have just lost very, very important people in South Sudan and now in Khartoum. So there is something wrong with our safety aircraft,” Ruae said.
The Sudan government has blamed the lack of spare parts for its US-made aircraft on US sanctions. But Ruae said sanctions should not be blamed for the accidents.
“I don’t think so because Sudan airways is privatized. It has nothing to do with the Sudan government. They should be up to safety standard of the international air travel regulation,” he said.
Ruae said many Sudanese are having a difficult time trying to explain the country’s many airplane accidents.
“As a concerned citizen, am just paying my condolences to whoever has lost a relative and then a condolence to all the nation of Sudan for tragedy that has happened today. We have just had another one few weeks ago. This is very unbecoming, and we cannot condone this any more,” Ruae said.