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Updated: Four survive as banned Antonov aircraft crashes in Yida

Author: Obaj Okuj | Published: March 19, 2024

Remains of burning plane in Yida. (-)

At least four crew members including a passenger survived when a banned Antonov cargo plane crash-landed and burned to ashes at Yida Airstrip in Ruweng Administrative Area on Tuesday, a Juba Airport official confirmed.

The Director of Juba International Airport, Kur Kuol, said the plane took off at 6:18 AM from Juba on a flight to Yida at the border with Sudan when it encountered trouble while landing at the airstrip.

The cargo plane, chartered by the Ministry of Defense and Veterans Affairs production department, was loaded with undisclosed food and military supplies.

Kuol revealed that poor vision caused by a foggy weather condition caused the plane to veer off the runway and strike a tree – causing significant damage.

Kuol confirmed that all three crew members and a lone soldier aboard survived the crash.

Images and video circulating on social media show the wrecked aircraft engulfed in flames as the survivors – some in torn clothes and bruises sit at a distance.

“The information is true. An Antonov plane 26 beyond 401 took off from Juba International Airport this morning around 6:18 AM. It was destined for Yida,” Kuol told Eye Radio.

“On board, there were three crews, one soldier and fuel which can fly the craft for four hours. It was supposed to land in Yida around 7:57 AM.”

“This aircraft belongs to the military production department for the Ministry of Defense. It is not a military aircraft it is a civilian aircraft chartered by the Ministry of Defense.”

The airport official disclosed that aviation authorities opted to halt all flights to the Upper Nile region due to the limited visibility caused by adverse weather.

However, he did not specify the duration of the suspension.

“The poor visibility is in all Upper Nile, that is now we cancelled all flights to Upper Nile region because of poor visibility in that region. So, that is at least something very small I can the public.”

For his part, the army spokesperson, Gen. Lul Ruai Koang says the aircraft that crash-landed at Yida airstrip in Ruweng Administrative belonged to South Sudan Peoples’ Defense Force.

At least four people survived a plane crash.

The incident happened after SSPDF owned an Antonov-26B crash landed.

“Today, March 19th, 2024, at 8:00 AM, our aircraft Avions-401 Antonov-26B crush landed at Yida airstrip resulting in two of four crew members sustaining minor injuries,”, the army spokesperson said.

Gen Lul says the accident was caused by poor visibility that had encompassed the entire northern part of our country.

“Poor visibility necessitated the cancellation of flights to Malakal, Renk, and Poloch,” he said.

However, General Lul Ruai says the SSPDF command has resolved to establish an investigation committee to ascertain the exact cause of the accident.

Plane crashes are commonly reported in South Sudan which authorities blame on aged planes smuggled into the country by aviation companies.

One of the most recent aviation accidents was on February 9, 2024, when a passenger aircraft hired to transport returnees from Upper Nile State experienced a runway excursion and sustained serious damage at Malakal Airport.

An official said the aircraft – Super 80 McDonnell Douglas with a registration – 5Y-AXL had a rough landing at the airport at 8:33 am leading to extensive damage.

The plane first touched down in a bushy area before reaching the runway threshold.

The two back wheels of the plane were destroyed, and its wings smashed on the ground before coming to a standstill at the far end of the runway.

In May 2021, the South Sudan Civil Aviation Authority ordered all airline companies operating Antonov An-26 to cease operations until further notice.

This came after an Antonov AN-26 cargo plane made an emergency landing at Juba International Airport following an incident in which one of its propellers fell off midair.

The single propeller plugged off in the sky and landed near some engineers working in Cuei-keer Boma, East of Bor County in Jonglei State.

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