South Sudan plane crash: Dozens killed near Juba airport

The scene of a cargo airplane that crashed after take-off near Juba Airport in South Sudan Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The plane came down on the east bank of the White Nile River

A cargo plane has crashed on take-off near the international airport in South Sudan's capital Juba, killing at least 36 people.

Two people were pulled from the wreckage alive but one of them later died, leaving a young girl as the only survivor, the Red Cross said.

The Antonov An-12 plane was heading to Paloch, Upper Nile State, and crashed 800m (half a mile) from the runway.

In a statement, Ukraine-based Antonov said the plane had not been airworthy.

It said the plane, which was built in 1971, "was is no state to fly because it failed to undergo timely technical servicing... that should have included work on extending its resources and exploitation timeframe", AFP news agency reported.

South Sudan authorities warned that the death toll could rise as the debris was cleared.

The plane crashed into a farming community on an island on the White Nile River but so far all the victims recovered were from the aircraft, the Red Cross said.

Presidential spokesman Ateny Wek Ateny said all of the plane's passengers were from South Sudan.

He said five of the six crew members were Armenian, while the sixth member was Russian. Armenia's foreign ministry has confirmed that five of its nationals were killed.

The head of the Civil Aviation at Juba airport said emergency officials had secured the site of the crash and were "in the stage of recovering bodies and black box [flight recorder]".

Image copyright AFP
Image caption The crash left a tail fin and lumps of fuselage strewn in the vegetation close to the water

While the cause of the crash is still unclear, the presidential spokesman told a news conference that it might have been down to engine failure.

Witnesses said bodies, debris and cargo were strewn over a wide area along the river bank.

'Landed near my door'

A man who saw the plane come down said he thought it might crash into a market area, but the pilot seemed to divert at the last minute.

A local farmer described the moment the plane started to go down, telling AFP: "The sound was so loud... the plane started descending and landed near my door.

"One of the tyres broke off and ran into the house - but thank God it did not injure anyone."

Cargo planes flying to remote parts of South Sudan often carry passengers too.

The plane's first flight was in 1971, the Aviation Safety Network reported. It was being operated by Allied Services Limited, a logistics company based in South Sudan, at the time of the crash.

However, the plane belonged to the Tajik company Asia Airways, Tajikistan's Transport Ministry told the Ozodagon news agency.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Officials are investigating the wreckage
Image copyright Allied Services Limited - Juba
Image caption A photo of the An-12 plane posted on Facebook by Allied Services Limited in October shows its registration number EY-406, which was also visible on the wreck

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