KHARTOUM (Reuters) – Up to 31 people including at least one Sudanese minister were killed when a plane taking them to an Islamic festival crashed in the south of the country, an official and state media said on Sunday.
The plane went down in mountains around Talodi, a town in the border state of South Kordofan, while taking a government delegation there to celebrate the festival marking the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, state news agency SUNA said.
State television reported that 26 passengers were killed, among them Guidance and Endowments (religious affairs) Minister Ghazi al-Sadeq.
Abdel Hafiz Abdel Rahim, a civil aviation spokesman, told Reuters that 31 people were killed including the crew, but had no details of their identities.
Arabic satellite channel Al Jazeera reported that two ministers were on board but did not name them, and said security personnel and a media team were killed in the crash.
The report did not say whether the plane involved belonged to state-owned Sudan Airways or another carrier.
There have been several crashes in recent years involving Sudan Airways, which has been worn down by years of U.S. sanctions and other problems.
A Sudan Airways cargo plane crashed while taking off in the United Arab Emirates in 2009 and another cargo plane crashed shortly after takeoff from Khartoum in 2008.
Oil-producing South Kordofan borders South Sudan, which seceded in July last year. An insurgency broke out in South Kordofan shortly before South Sudan’s independence.
The Sudanese government accused rebels of killing a state official and seven other people there in July, but there was no indication the insurgents were involved in the plane crash.
A spokesman for the main rebel group in the area, the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement North, said they had nothing to do with the crash.