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Military cargo plane crashes at Ruweng’s Yida Airstrip

The SSPDF-operated Antinov 26 on fire at the Yida Airstrip. (Courtesy photo)
The SSPDF-operated Antinov 26 on fire at the Yida Airstrip. (Courtesy photo)

A military cargo plane carrying mixed goods to Yida in Ruweng Administrative Area on Tuesday morning crashed at Yida Airstrip, the Director General of Juba International confirmed.

Speaking to Radio Tamazuj, Kuol Kur, said the Antinov 26 which is operated by the South Sudan People’s Defense Forces’ (SSPDF) Military Production Unit and was chartered by a citizen whose name he did not disclose, took off from the Juba International Airport at 6:18 a.m.

“We have an Antinov 26 that took off from Juba International Airport at 6:18 a.m. and the destination was Yida. The estimated time of landing was 7:57 a.m. but it met the incident at that time,” he said. “The reason was that there was poor visibility in Yida and the whole of the Upper Nile area so now we altered the flight to Upper Nile today until the weather could clear.”

Kur said all four crew members and one soldier who were on board all survived the crash and have been taken to hospital for treatment.

He said all flights to Upper Nile have been halted today until visibility improves.

Yuhan Motor, a Church leader in Yida who witnessed the incident said the aircraft had four people on board who sustained minor injuries but there was no Civil Defense Force and Fire Brigade to put out the fire on the burning aircraft.

“There is a cargo plane carrying four people that crashed in Yida airstrip but they all survived and we took them to the hospital. There are two South Sudanese and two white men and one of the victims injured his arm and the other injured his head,” he narrated. “Today the weather was not good and there was very poor visibility. The plane approached the airstrip badly and did not land properly. It landed on the side of the airstrip and is now burning and the civil defense force is not here to put off the fire.”

South Sudan has witnessed several plane crashes in recent years.

In February 2024, a passenger aircraft operated by Africano Company which was involved in transporting returnees who fled the war in Sudan, crash-landed at Malakal Airport. No one was reportedly hurt in the accident.  

In April 2023, a cargo plane carrying passengers crash-landed at Juba International Airport. All the passengers came out unscathed.

On 2 March 2021, a Let L-410 Turbolet of South Sudan Supreme Airlines crashed in Pieri, Uror County on a domestic flight to Yuai Airstrip, South Sudan.

In August 2020, eight people lost their lives, while a single passenger survived with injuries when a cargo plane crashed into a farm in the Kemeru area minutes after it took off from the Juba International Airport.

In 2015, 36 people were killed when a Soviet-era Antonov plane crashed just after takeoff from Juba.

In 2017, 37 people had a miraculous escape after their plane hit a fire truck on a runway in Wau before bursting into flames.

19 people were killed in 2018 when a small aircraft carrying passengers from Juba to Yirol crashed.

South Sudan lacks proper road connectivity, forcing people to rely on air transport.