Southern Sudan air crash claims prominent lives


Southern Sudan air crash claims prominent lives
Wolfgang H. Thome

KAMPALA, Uganda (eTN) – The Southern Sudan Air Connections-operated Beech 1900 aircraft crash last weekend has claimed the lives of all 19 passengers and three Kenyan crew. According to reports, both engines failed during an internal flight between Wau and Southern Sudan’s capital city of Juba.

On board were the Southern Sudan Defense Minister Dominic Deng and his wife, high-ranking officials and a senior advisor to Southern Sudan’s President Salva Kiir.

Information received from reliable sources at Juba airport indicates that the pilots did radio air traffic control over problems with the plane’s engines not long after take off and requested for an emergency landing in near by Rumbek, before going off the radar when the plane crashed, killing all on board. The plane was apparently registered in Kenya but was leased out to a local Juba based airline for flights across the autonomous region of Southern Sudan.

Southern Sudan’s liberation hero John Garang also died in an air crash in July 2005 when returning home on the Ugandan presidential helicopter, coming from a consultative visit to President Museveni’s upcountry home in Rwakitura near Mbarara. That accident investigation’s official report ultimately blamed pilot error for the crash, when the crew flew into one of the extreme thunderstorms this region can produce.

A full investigation has been opened by the Juba and Khartoum aviation administrations into the causes of this latest crash. The Juba government has also advised the public to desist from speculation over the crash causes until a full technical report from aviation experts, including specialists from the manufacturers and friendly aviation authorities has been submitted to the government of Southern Sudan. It was mentioned, though, that nothing would be ruled out or ruled in at this early stage of the investigation.

The UN mission in Juba sent a helicopter from their Juba airbase to the accident site to assist in the recovery mission and the air accident investigation