South Sudan plane crash: five dead after aircraft hits tree

Soviet-era transport aircraft was carrying fuel for the UN's World Food Programme

Five people have been killed in a cargo plane crash in South Sudan's capital Juba.

The aircraft was carrying fuel for the UN's World Food Programme when it hit a mango tree and caught fire, airport officials said.

The Soviet-era Antonov An-26 transport plane crashed shortly after take-off from Juba's international airport, killing everyone onboard.

"One is a South Sudanese, two are Sudanese and two are Ukrainians," David Subek, head of the South Sudan Civil Aviation Authority, told AFP. The cargo plane belonging to a local operator was reportedly carrying 28 barrels of fuel for the WFP to Maban, a district housing more than 100,000 refugees.

South Sudan Red Cross said emergency workers had collected five bodies that were "burned beyond recognition".

Airport director general Kur Kuol said: "The people on board were burnt. They are in bad shape.”

South Sudan achieved independence in 2011 and has experienced economic and political crises ever since. It lacks a reliable transport infrastructure, with plane crashes often blamed on overloading and poor weather.

President Salva Kiir ordered the suspension of an airline in March after one of its planes crashed in the country's east, killing all 10 onboard, including the two pilots.

The aircraft belonging to South Sudan Supreme Airlines crashed in Jonglei state shortly after taking off from Pieri.

Another plane owned by local company South West Aviation crashed in August last year killing four passengers and three crew.

The cargo plane had been carrying cash to the Wau region in the country's north-west for Juba-based Opportunity Bank.

Overloading planes is common in South Sudan, a factor that is believed to have contributed to the 2015 crash of an Antonov plane in Juba that left 36 people dead.

In 2017, 37 people had a miraculous escape after their plane hit a fire truck on a runway in Wau before bursting into flames.

Updated: November 3rd 2021, 7:48 AM