19 December 2013

South Sudan: Plane Crashes On Juba Runway Closing Airport

Photo: George Mindruta/UN
Civilians arriving at the UN House compound in the southwestern outskirts of Juba, seeking protection from recent fighting in the capital.

Juba — An airplane has crashed on the Juba runway, disrupting commercial flights and evacuation flights leaving the embattled South Sudanese capital. No serious injuries or deaths were reported from the crash, but observers said the front wheel appeared to have collapsed and the tail was up.

Juba Airport has only one runway, and at the moment hundreds of expatriates as well as South Sudanese with foreign passports are waiting in the departure lounge.

The plane is a Boeing 727 coming from Khartoum. It was not immediately clear what airline it was from but it appeared to be a commercial passenger jet.

An airline operations officer speaking to Radio Tamazuj said that the cabin of the plane was intact and there had been no fire, but added that the plane now lacks a nose wheel.

"It's stuck on the runway until they can find a way of dragging it off," he said.

The airline worker explained that at a larger airport such an accident could be cleared in a matter of hours using specialist equipment, but that in Juba there was no way of telling how long it would take.

He said that perhaps some way could be improvised to drag the airplane off the runway using an army tank or heavy equipment borrowed from the UN.

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