Sudan: Dozens Die In Airliner Fire

11 June 2008

A Sudanese airliner erupted into flames after landing in Khartoum late Tuesday night, killing dozens of people.

News agencies quoted Sudanese officials as saying the local mortuary had received 28 bodies by 3 am on Wednesday, but Reuters quoted witnesses as saying five more bodies had been removed after dawn.

Civil aviation officials reported that there had been at least 113 survivors. The aircraft was carrying more than 200 passengers.

The BBC reported Wednesday that Yusuf Ibrahim, director of Khartoum airport, told Sudanese television that the plane had landed and the pilots were in contact with the control tower about a docking gate when a fire broke out.

"There was an explosion in one of the engines and the plane caught fire," Ibrahim said.

Awad Mohamed Idris, a crash survivor, told Agence France-Presse: "I've been travelling a lot, I know when a landing is rough... When it came to a stop, fire was burning the right side of the plane and was beginning to burn the inside of the plane."

The cabin filled with smoke and he used an escape chute to get out, he said. "After I left the plane I was still coughing."

The Associated Press reported that the Sudan Airways Airbus A310 had come from Amman, Jordan and Damascus, Syria.

One pilot who flew into Khartoum earlier Tuesday evening told CNN that the landing was challenging, due to standing water, and a sandstorm, which limited visibility. It is currently the rainy season in Sudan.

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