JUBA – A passenger jet carrying 45 people crashed in South Sudan’s northwestern city of Wau on Monday, leaving at least 14 people injured, government and airport officials said.
Hours after the accident, there was still no official confirmation of whether the rest of those on board were alive or dead.
“There were 40 passengers and five crew (on board) that is all. I don’t have any information,” said Gabriel Ngang, the manager of South Supreme Airlines, the owner of the plane.
He said the jet had taken off from the capital Juba.
“Right now we have the ambulance which has just come out from the airport and we have received 14 patients being rushed to hospital in stable condition,” said State Information Minister Bona Gaudensio.
Paul Charles, an engineer at Wau airport, and local radio journalist Lawrence Yunisen, both told AFP that some passengers — not counted among the injured — had managed to flee the burning plane unscathed.
Charles said the weather in the region had not been good when the plane came into land.
“Visibility was not good up to now and (the plane) was landing from the east to west, then it just crashed (off) the runway. The pilot I think was not seeing the runway well,” he said.
“Some of the people got out by themselves, some of them were pulled. Only the back part of the plane remains but the rest was burned,” he added.
Video images obtained by AFP showed firefighters battling to put out the blaze as thick black smoke billowed from the aircraft. The plane was completely burned out except for the tail, which clearly displayed the insignia of local carrier South Supreme Airlines.
In November 2015, 36 people were killed when a Soviet-era Antonov plane crashed just after takeoff from Juba. Two survivors were pulled out of the twisted metal hulk but one later died.
The plane crash is the latest tragedy to befall South Sudan, which has been gripped by civil war since 2013. The country is also in the midst of a “man-made” famine due to the conflict.