World

Officials adjust Sudan plane crash death toll to 28: report

A passenger jet burst into flames Tuesday after veering off a runway at an airport in the Sudanese capital of Khartoum, killing at least 28 people and leaving another 66 unaccounted for, an airport official said.

Conflicting reports say bad weather or technical issue caused tragedy

This video image taken from Sudan TV via AP Television News shows a plane that burst into flames after apparently veering off a runway at an airport in Khartoum. ((Sudan TV via APTN/Associated Press))
A passenger jet carrying more than 200 passengers burst into flames Tuesday after veering off a runway at an airport in the Sudanese capital of Khartoum, killing at least 28 people and leaving another 66 unaccounted for, an airport official said.

Maj.-Gen. Mohamed Osman Mahjoub, the head of the airport's medical services, initially told Reuters that 120 people died in the crash, but later said that figure was incorrect. Other media reports placed the number of dead at about 100.

The news agency reported Mahjoub as saying officials had so far counted 123 survivors from the 217 people aboard the plane, and that 28 bodies had been taken to the local mortuary.

Authorities also gave conflicting accounts of what occurred after the Sudan Airways Airbus A-310 touched down about 9 p.m. local time during a thunderstorm and high winds.

Mohammad Najib, head of Sudanese police, told the Associated Press just after the tragedy that bad weather "caused the plane to crash land, split in two and catch fire."

However, Youssef Ibrahim, the director of the airport, subsequently denied that bad weather had caused the crash, saying a technical reason was to blame.

Ibrahim said that after the plane "landed safely" in Khartoum, the pilot talked to the control tower and got further directions.

"At this moment, one of the [plane's] engines exploded and the plane caught fire," Ibrahim told Sudanese TV.

Giant flames dwarf fire crews

Ambulances and fire trucks were seen rushing to the scene after the accident, as Sudanese television footage showed giant flames dwarfing fire crews.

The plane, which was flying from Damascus, Syria, made stops in Amman, Jordan and Port Sudan along the Red Sea, Sudan's ambassador to the U.S., John Ukec Lueth Ukec, said in Washington.

In May, a plane crash in a remote area of southern Sudan killed 24 people, including key members of the southern Sudanese government.

In July 2003, a Sudan Airways Boeing 737 en route to Khartoum  from Port Sudan crashed soon after takeoff, killing all 115 people aboard.

With files from the Associated Press