Russian Plane Crash Kills 4 in Sudan

APEmergency workers looking at the wreckage of a Russian plane that crashed Monday in Sudan's capital, Khartoum.
KHARTOUM, Sudan -- A Russian cargo plane crashed near the Khartoum airport on Monday shortly after takeoff from the Sudanese capital, a spokesman for the country's civil aviation authority said.

All four crew members were killed in the crash, according to the spokesman, Abdel Hafez Abdel Rahim. The crew was believed to be Russian.

Abdel Rahim said the plane was destined for the south Sudanese capital of Juba and crashed "just minutes after takeoff" around 7 a.m., "about one kilometer or so from the airport."

Ambulance sirens were heard in Khartoum after the crash. UN-operated Miraya Radio reported black smoke rising just south of the airport and said the Ilyushin 76 plane belonged to the private Sudanese company Ababiel.

It was the second plane crash in Sudan in one week and the third in June.

Later Monday, Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir sacked the chief of the country's Civil Aviation Authority, Abu Bakar Gaafar, and banned Russian-made cargo planes from operating in Sudan's civil aviation, the state SUNA news agency said.

The move was al-Bashir's response to repeated accidents involving Russian-made cargo planes in Sudan. It made no mention of the use of the Russian-made planes by Sudan's military.

Also Monday, al-Bashir instructed that a committee be set up to probe the cause of recent plane incidents, SUNA said. The president recently lost a close friend, who was also Sudan's vice president in a plane crash, and some high-ranking military officials.

On Saturday, seven people were killed and one survived when a Russian-made Antonov plane operated by Juba Cargo crashed in southern Sudan. That plane was en route from Khartoum to the southern city of Juba.