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Helicopter crashes in eastern Sudan, killing local officials

By Sheetal Sukhija, Brunei News.Net
10 Dec 2018, 01:42 GMT+10

KHARTOUM, Sudan - In a tragic incident on Sunday, a helicopter carrying government officials in Sudan crashed in the country's eastern state of Al-Qadarif.

According to the State News Agency SUNA, at least seven local government officials were killed in the crash, after the helicopter they were travelling in crashed into a communications tower near the border with Ethiopia.

Witnesses told the local media that the helicopter appeared to be attempting to land in a field in the area when it crashed into the tower and immediately burst into flames.

The report in SUNA noted that the Governor of Al-Qadarif State Mirghani Saleh, his cabinet chief and the Sudanese Minister of Agriculture were among the dead. 

Further, the local police chief and head of border guards were also killed in the crash. 

The State News Agency said that the officials had been carrying out a security tour of the province when the helicopter crashed.

The report added that a number of other people reportedly sustained injuries in the crash and were rushed to the hospital for treatment.

According to some local reports, the officials were aboard a plane, not a helicopter, but there is so far, no precise statement from the government.

So far, authorities have not specified that exact number of people injured in the crash or if there were any survivors.

There have been no official comments on the circumstances surrounding the crash either.

Officials have said that they have launched an investigation to ascertain the cause of the crash.

Some reports on social media stated that the death toll was much high, with some witnesses claiming 11 people had died in the crash.

Sudan's military and civilian fleet currently consist largely of old Soviet-made aircraft.

Sunday's crash wasn't the first such incident in the country either since a series of air accidents and crashes have been reported in recent years. 

The crash on Sunday took place days after a military helicopter crashed and caught fire on landing in Darfur.

However, in that crash, all passengers were rescued.

More recently, in October this year, eight people suffered grave injuries in a collision between two Sudanese army planes on the runway at Khartoum airport.

Before that, in the month of September, two pilots were killed after their military jet crashed near Omdurman, Khartoum's twin city on the west bank of the Nile.

The same month, about 17 people were killed and only three people survived after an aircraft en route from South Sudan's capital of Juba to Yirol city crashed. 

Last year, bad weather caused a plane to crash in South Sudan, leaving four passengers injured.

The plane crashed into a fire truck upon landing and burst into flames.

The country's military often blames technical problems and bad weather for such incidents. 

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