The plane was landing but then crashed, said Wau’s Acting Airport Manager Stephen Youngule.
“The plane touched down and then jumped up again. The pilot couldn’t control it,” said Youngule, who is also Deputy Director of Air Traffic Services. “I saw it until the very last moment before the fire engulfed the aircraft.”
When the plane crashed, its door flew open, which allowed the pilot and rescue crews to get everybody out, he said. Those with injuries were taken to Wau’s hospital for treatment, said Youngule.
The plane, an Antonov 26, carried 44 passengers and had five crew members, said Youngule.
On social media, images appeared of the plane with smoke billowing from the wrecked fuselage.
U.N. peacekeepers worked with local emergency workers to evacuate passengers from the plane, according to David Shearer, head of the U.N. mission in South Sudan. Peacekeepers from Bangladesh, Nepal and China helped in the emergency work, he said.
The plane was from South Supreme Airlines, a South Sudanese carrier. It was making a trip from Juba to Wau, in northwestern South Sudan when it crashed. Most of the passengers were South Sudanese with two foreigners, one each from China and Eritrea.
Since 2013, South Sudan has been embroiled in a civil war that has killed at least 50,000 people. In late February, a famine was declared in the country and more than 1 million people are at risk of starvation.
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