KHARTOUM, Sudan (AP) — A Sudanese helicopter carrying a government delegation crashed in a mountainous southern region on Sunday, killing all 32 people on board including a Cabinet minister, a former presidential adviser, two generals and a TV crew.
The delegation was traveling aboard a chartered helicopter to the volatile South Kordofan state to attend prayers on the first day of the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of the fasting month of Ramadan.
The helicopter went down “due to harsh weather conditions” near Talodi, a small town about 406 miles southwest of the capital, Khartoum, state-run news agency SUNA said.
A Sudanese official said the aircraft slammed into a mountain just before it was to land in Talodi, as seasonal heavy rains in the region left the pilots with “zero visibility.” The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to speak to the media.
He said a search team that reached the site of the crash was having trouble identifying the victims because many bodies were charred and torn to pieces.
Minister of Endowment Ghadi al-Sadeq and a former adviser to Mr. al-Bashir, Makki Balayela, were on the list, as were the two generals and other officials. A four-member TV crew from Sudan‘s state television also died in the crash.
Sudan has a poor aviation safety record, with a large number of jet accidents occurring on landing. In late 2010, a plane carrying 36 people crashed on landing in Sudan‘s western Darfur region, killing at least two people.
And in May 2008 — before South Sudan became a separate country — a plane crash in a remote area in the south killed 24 people, including key members of the regional southern Sudanese government.
By Elaine Donnelly
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