By Deng Machol
Juba, South Sudan – A cargo plane hired by the UN food agency crashed in South Sudan’s capital on Saturday morning, killing seven people with one survival authorities say .
The Cargo plane took off from Juba International Airport (JIA) at around 8: 48 Am local time and crashed 10 minutes late in Yaba Paul village (15KM from JIA) _ Hai Referendum, Juba, was en route to Wau and Aweil towns.
South Sudan authorities say five passengers and three crew members were on board the Antonov An-26 cargo plane.
The aircraft owned by Southwest Airlines Company was hired by the World Flood Programme (WFP) to take medicines, motorbikes, spare parts, food items and NGOs staff salaries in Wau and Aweil town respectively.
Kur Kuol, director of Juba International Airport, confirmed the plane crash, noting that the plane was en route to Aweil and Wau to deliver staff salaries for an organization.
It is not clear what might have caused the accident.
Kuol said the aviation authorities will investigate the cause of the accident.
According to eyewitnesses, the plane that belongs to South West Aviation burnt into ashes.
Eyewitnesses told Pan African Visions that one injured person was rushed to a hospital and seven dead bodies were seen on the ground.
Joseph Mayom, an eyewitness described the incident as the most terrible thing he ever saw.
“The plane crashed and killed all people, except one person – this is very bad and shocking accident,” said Mayom.He said the items, including medicines and money (South Sudanese Pound) were burnt to ashes.
“The plane was heading to Wau and then to Aweil (towns), a few minutes of taken off, it crashed at the West of New Site and Hai Referendum (residential areas) – the crews were three and five passengers, the total were eight, among the eight, only one survivor,” the Minister of Transport, Madut Biar Yel narrated the incident to Eye Radio in Juba. The plane was hired by the UN – WFP to take their items, including money for their staff in Wau and Aweil, he added.
Identities of the victims are yet to be ascertained, and the pilot of the plane was a foreign national, his identity is yet to be established.
In September 2018, a chartered Let-410 UVP belonging to the same aviation company crashed into Lake Shambe in Yirol, Lakes state killing at least 20 people, including an Anglican Bishop.
Following the incident, South Sudanese President Salva Kiir in April 2019 banned planes spanning 20 years of service from transporting people, limiting them to cargo .
It is the second private commercial plane to crash this month in the fragile country blighted by years of conflict and corruption.
Last week, a 5Y-SAV aircraft which was hired by Nile Hope organization reportedly hit a tree, nose-dived to the ground then turned upside down and crashed.
However, the observers say South Sudan which gained her independence in 2011 is using old cargo planes or aircrafts which have a typical problem of old engines (performing 80% or less than normal), which cannot take full load and in a situation like this, the plane engines burst during take-off and this is why we have cases of aircraft crashes near the airport of take-off.