JUBA (Reuters) – At least 17 people died in South Sudan on Sunday when a small aircraft carrying passengers from Juba International Airport to the city of Yirol crashed, State information Minister Taban Abel told Reuters.
“The plane crashed and killed 17 people and we have three survivors,” Abel told Reuters by phone from Yirol. The plane carried a total of 22 people and two were still missing.
One of the survivors, an Italian doctor working with an NGO, is in critical condition and undergoing surgery in Yirol Hospital, the minister said.
The plane crashed by a river and an eye witness had earlier said bodies were recovered from the water.
There were three children among the 22 passengers, a source said.
David Subek, Chief Executive officer of South Sudan Civil Aviation Authority in Juba, confirmed the crash and told Reuters he did not know the death toll yet.
Several crashes have occurred in war-torn South Sudan in recent years. In 2017, four passengers were injured after bad weather caused their plane to crash into a fire truck upon landing and burst into flames.
In 2015, dozens of people were killed when a Russian-built cargo plane with passengers on board crashed after taking off from the airport in Juba.
(Reporting by Denis Dumo; Writing by Ingrid Melander; Editing by David Goodman and Kirsten Donovan)