JUBA : Nineteen people were killed on Sunday when a small plane crashed into a lake in the centre of South Sudan, while four survived, a regional official told AFP.
Regional information minister for the Eastern Lakes state Taban Abel Aguek said a plane, carrying 23 people, had crashed in the central town of Yirol as it came into land.
“The number of people we have confirmed dead is 19 people and four people survived,” said Abel, adding that two children were among the survivors as was an Italian citizen.
He said the Anglican Bishop of Yirol, Simon Adut, was confirmed among the dead. The pilot and co-pilot, a staff member with the International Committee of the Red Cross, a Ugandan who runs a private clinic in Yirol, a government official and two army officers were also confirmed dead. “The whole town is in shock, the shops are closed, some people have taken their relatives for burial. It is a commercial plane that crashed,” Abel told AFP.
“When the plane was landing the weather was foggy and this was not a good situation for plane landing.” The UN broadcaster Radio Miraya posted a picture on its Twitter account of the twisted wreckage of the plane submerged in water.
Overloading of planes is common in South Sudan, and this was believed to have contributed to the crash of a Soviet-era Antonov plane upon takeoff in Juba in 2015 which left 36 people dead. In 2017, 37 people had a miraculous escape after their plane hit a fire truck on a runway in northwestern Wau before bursting into flames.
South Sudan was plunged into civil war in December 2013, when President Salva Kiir accused his former deputy Riek Machar of planning a coup, leaving tens of thousands dead and millions displaced.