Wednesday, 11 June 2008

100 feared dead after plane explodes on landing

A Sudan Airways jet has exploded whilst attempting to land at Khartoum Airport and veered off the runway.

It’s feared more than 100 people are dead. Aviation officials have said 203 passengers and 11 crew were onboard the aircraft and 103 and 10 crew members have survived.

The Airbus A310 had taken off from Damascus and was trying to land in a thunderstorm. It appeared to have landed safely before then swerving off the runway and exploding into a massive fireball.

"There are missing passengers who could be still inside the plane, or left the aircraft but did not inform officials they were passengers," a police spokesman said.

One survivor stated: “The landing was "rough", the right wing was on fire. Smoke poured into the cockpit and passengers began opening emergency exit doors as the flames quickly swept into the plane.”

The cause of the accident is still unclear. John Ukec Lueth Ukec the Sudanese ambassador to Washington has put the cause of the accident down to bad weather.

"There was a lot of water on the runway and they still tried to land," he claimed. "It will be investigated and we will find out what went wrong, whether it is a technical issue or human error."

Sudan’s police chief later added:

"Bad weather caused the plane to crash-land, split into two and catch fire. We believe that most of the passengers were able to make it out and escape with their lives."

However, the director of Khartoum Airport has said a technical fault with the aircraft caused the accident. He said that the aircraft landed safely and was being instructed from the control tower about taxiing. "At that moment, one of the engines exploded and the plane caught fire. It is a technical reason," said Mr Ibrahim

This incident has added to Sudan’s poor aviation safety record. In May 24 people died in a crash in remote part of the country where members of the region’s government were killed.

A Sudan Airways Boeing 737 crashed after take off from Port Sudan killing everyone onboard in July 2003.