An Antonov cargo plane crashed in the Nile River shortly after take off in South Sudan’s capital, Juba, killing at least 35 people on board and on the ground.
Two passengers, including a child and a crew member, survived, presidential spokesman Ateny Wek Ateny said by phone Wednesday from the city. The aircraft killed an unknown number of fishermen, Ateny said. The South Sudan Red Cross said the bodies recovered have been taken to the hospital.
“We cannot say there are no bodies remaining, but it now needs heavy machinery to dig through” the marshland where the plane hit, Hillary Majju, a spokesman for the medical charity, said by phone.
Radio Miraya, a United Nations-backed broadcaster based in the city, said its reporter counted “up to 40” bodies at the crash site, most of them children. Five Russians were aboard the plane, state-run RIA Novosti reported.
The aircraft was owned by Allied Service Ltd., a Juba-based logistics company, said Brigadier-General Kur Kuol Ajieu, director of Juba International Airport. Calls to Allied Services didn’t connect when Bloomberg sought comment.
“It’s a cargo plane not meant to carry passengers, but after the crisis which chased people away from their homes and now with the peace, many people are going back home and they negotiate flights directly with the companies without us registering them,” Majju said.
South Sudan has been engulfed by conflict since December 2013, when a power struggle in the ruling party led to fighting within the presidential guard and the fracturing of the army. Tens of thousands of people have been killed in the conflict, which has forced more than two million others from their homes, according to the UN.