UK & World News
Sudan Minister Among Dead In Helicopter Crash
A Sudanese government minister was among 32 people killed after a helicopter crashed in southern Sudan.
Ghazi al Saddiq Abdel Rahim, the guidance and religious endowments minister, died when the aircraft came down in mountains in war-torn South Kordofan state.
It was landing at Talodi for a function marking the Muslim Eid holiday when it crashed.
Abdelhafiz Abdelrahim, a spokesman for the Sudan Aviation Authority, said: "All people on board were killed."
He added that the aircraft was landing this morning when "an explosion was heard and the plane was destroyed".
The cause of the crash is unclear, but culture and information minister Ahmed Bilal Osman told Radio Omdurman the helicopter "crashed into a hill" because of bad weather. The area has been hit by heavy rain in the past week.
Mr Saddiq took up the position last month after a cabinet reshuffle. He had been minister of tourism and antiquities.
A leading member of Sudan's Peace and Justice Party, Makki Balayela, was also on board along with two generals and other officials. A four-member TV crew from Sudan's state television also died in the crash.
Oil-producing South Kordofan borders South Sudan, which seceded more than a year ago. The border state has been the site of an insurgency since shortly before South Sudan's independence.
Talodi has been a key battleground in that insurgency which began in June last year between the government and ethnic rebels.
A spokesman for the main rebel group in the area, the Sudan People's Liberation Movement North, said it had nothing to do with the plane crash.
Sudan has a poor aviation safety record. In 2010, a plane carrying 36 people crashing on landing in Sudan's western Darfur region - killing at least two people.
Two years earlier 24 people were killed in a plane crash in a remote area in now South Sudan and in 2003 all 115 people on board a Sudan Airways Boeing 737 flying between Port Sudan and Khartoum died after it crashed shortly after takeoff.