5 December 2017

Sudan: Landing Gear Blast Grounds High-Level Diplomatic Flight in Darfur

Zalingei — An explosion in the landing gear moments before takeoff grounded a Sudanese DH8 aircraft carrying high-level international ambassadors and United Nations officials at Zalingei Airport this morning. None of the passengers were injured.

The passengers including the ambassadors to Sudan from Qatar, the UK, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, and Canada, the deputy ambassadors of France and Germany, and United States embassy representatives were on board. The country director of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the Unamid head of mission, as well as World Food Programme (WFP) officials, also boarded the aircraft which was set to leave Zalingei Airport in Central Darfur to Khartoum.

The Civil Aviation Authority in Zalingei announced that the aircraft, reportedly a DH8 passenger plane of the WFP, is being held on the ground until a technical crew from Khartoum has arrived to investigate the explosion.

A statement issued by the same authority said that this is the second incident in Darfur in a month's time, in which the landing gear of an aircraft exploded. In November, the wheels of an aircraft exploded at El Fasher Airport.

The high-level delegation of ambassadors and UN representatives were visiting Central Darfur to officially open several development projects. The delegation has reportedly remained in Zalingei.

Emergency landing

On Thursday, a Turkish Airlines flight with 107 passengers aboard made an emergency landing in Khartoum Airport after a bomb threat, authorities said. The aircraft was heading to Cairo from the Kenyan capital Nairobi when a British passenger on the board of the Boeing 737 received a bomb threat by e-mail when it entered the Sudanese airspace, said a spokesman for the Civil Aviation Authority.

All the passengers were evacuated before explosive experts started their inspection of the aircraft, which was isolated in a remote area of the airport.

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