Sudan plane crash kills 1152-year-old sole survivor [Archives:2003/649/Front Page]
KHARTOUM, July 8 (Reuters) – A two-year-old girl was the only survivor after a Sudan Airways plane crashed on a domestic flight in Africa's largest country just after dawn on Tuesday, killing 115 people.
A Sudan Airways spokesman said the toddler, named as Lena Abdallah, had been taken to hospital in Port Sudan and Sudanese TV said she was in good condition. It was not immediately clear whether her parents were on board.
The bodies of the dead were swiftly buried, in keeping with the Muslim tradition.
The pilot of the Boeing 737 reported a technical failure a few minutes after taking off at about 4:00 a.m. local time (0100 GMT) from the Red Sea town of Port Sudan in the northeast, heading towards Khartoum, state radio said.
The plane crashed just a few km (miles) away from Port Sudan airport as it returned in an attempt to land.
Residents of Port Sudan, fearing for their loved ones, rushed to the airport and gathered in nearby areas waiting for news. Residents of Khartoum made frantic checks to see if family or friends might have been on board.
A Sudan Airways employee told Reuters 104 passengers and 11 crew were killed. Identification efforts began shortly after the crash, but it was unclear how many bodies had been identified.
The names on the passenger manifest, which included 17 children, were read out on Sudanese television. Sudan Airways spokesman Mohamed Osman said seven foreigners had been on the flight, but gave no details on their nationalities.
Sudanese TV said the bodies of the victims were laid to rest in a mass grave in Port Sudan, about 700 km (450 miles) northeast of the capital. Local government officials issued a decree calling for the immediate burial of the dead.
Minister of State for Aviation Mohamed Hassan al-Bahi said on state radio that a committee had been formed to investigate the crash. Sudanese TV said the team was made up of civil aviation authority, Sudan Airways and security officials.
A year ago, a Sudan Airways cargo plane crashed into a residential area of the Central African Republic's capital Bangui, killing 23 people, mostly passengers and crew.
Another of the carrier's cargo planes crashed on approach to the airport in the Kenyan capital Nairobi in December 1990.
In 1986, 60 people died when a Sudan Airways passenger plane was hit by a guerrilla SAM-7 missile, shortly after take off from Malakal in southern Sudan, where the government has been a fighting a 20-year-old civil war with rebels.
Port Sudan is the country's only major port, and is the main oil export terminal for the nascent oil producer.
Sudan Airways employees said the 737 was the only aircraft owned by the airline. All other planes in its fleet were leased.