Plane Crash South Sudan Kills 41. There was 17 passengers and crew on-board the Russian, Antinov cargo plane, but the majority of casualties came as the aircraft crashed into a local settlement on take-off from Juba International Airport.

Aircraft at the side of Juba runway from an earlier near miss in October
Aircraft at the side of Juba runway from an earlier near miss in October.

This wasn’t the first time this has happened however. Earlier in October 2015 two aircraft found themselves on the runway at the same time! The crash narrowly averted, as one of the planes deliberately veered off the runway to avoid the collision.

South Sudan – famous as the world’s newest country, is potentially rich – well on paper at least. It has oil reserves as well as other vast mineral deposits, and the Equitorial states in the south of the country provide a huge expanse of rich fertile soil just waiting to be used. However it is one of the world’s poorest countries.

As the civil war between the incumbent President Kiir and the In Opposition (IO) forces rages on, the country is fast disintegrating. Inflation is at epidemic levels, fuel and other essential commodities in short supply; the security forces haven’t been paid for months; crime is rampant and the risk of social unrest turning into even more violent unrest is a clear and present danger.

Shanty town at the side of Juba runway
Shanty towns are all around the runway at Juba International, innocent bystanders make up the the majority of the casualties.

Despite the millions pumped into the country by the UN, World Bank and a plethora of NGOs, little has found its way down to ground level. The incumbent regime obstructive, ensuring that only its supporters are given a modicum of help. Another casualty is the country’s infrastructure, the schools, hospitals and it seems that even the airport suffering from the lack of financial support.

I was lucky. I flew out of Juba the Friday before the crash after a two-month assignment. Take a look at the video I managed to snap as the plane took off. I could leave but the people of South Sudan can’t, their suffering trapped by the conflict that rages on in the world’s newest country.

 

 

 

 

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