Sudan's civil aviation authority SCAA has confirmed that at least 171 occupants survived the fire that gutted a Sudan Airways Airbus A310-300 after it veered off the Khartoum runway during a landing in stormy weather on 11 June. The authorities say 29 bodies have been recovered, which leaves 14 people unaccounted for from the 203 passengers and 11 crew on board.
It is not clear whether these missing people are believed dead or had left the scene of the accident without reporting to anyone. Earlier official statements had suggested the aircraft had caught fire while taxiing to its stand after landing, but the SCAA has since confirmed that the aircraft "veered off the runway" while landing at 20:45 and "burst into flames".
The SCAA confirms the Pratt & Whitney PW4000-powered twinjet (ST-ATN) was operating flight SD109 from Amman, Jordan via Damascus, Syria. It had already been "turned back once" from Khartoum because of stormy weather, says the SCAA, and it diverted to Port Sudan.
Meteorological data for Khartoum airport shows rain and thunderstorms in the vicinity when the aircraft landed. The SCAA says civil defence forces were able to assist with opening the emergency exits and evacuating the A310, but the cause of the fire remains unclear.
Airbus says the aircraft has been operated by Sudan Airways since September last year. It had accumulated around 52,000h and 21,000 cycles. Five Airbus personnel are being sent to Sudan to aid the investigation, while the manufacturer will also provide technical assistance to France's BEA accident inquiry agency, which is involved because France was the original certificating country for the aircraft type.