February 11, 2006

Sudanese military plane crashes killing 20

KHARTOUM (Reuters) - A Sudanese military plane crashed at
the airport in the southern town of Awil on Saturday killing
all seven crew and 13 soldiers on board, officials said.

"Twenty people were killed -- seven crew and 13 others,
soldiers," said an army spokesman. He said it was an Antonov 29
plane that caught fire and exploded.

The crash took place at 9:30 a.m. (0630 GMT).

A senior southern army official said the plane crashed on
landing at the airport when the front tire of the plane burst.

"When landing the front tire burst and they couldn't
control the plane so it hit a building near the airport," said
Elias Waya Nyipuocs, a senior official in the south Sudanese

He added the plane then caught fire. He could not confirm
that the plane had exploded.

Nyipuocs said it seemed the crash was an accident.

Sudan, the largest country in Africa, has few tarmac roads
and relies heavily on air transport.

Old Russian planes are used for both military and
commercial flights and air crashes are frequent, often
involving cargo planes. At almost every airport, passengers are
first greeted on landing by a burnt-out wreck of a plane.

Last year a helicopter crash killed the newly-appointed
First Vice President John Garang in southern Sudan, just three
weeks after he took office.