DAVID LEARMOUNT / LONDON
Sudan's foreign minister Mustafa Osman Ismail has tried to link last week's fatal crash of a Sudan Airways Boeing 737-200 with US trade sanctions on the country that he alleges have caused a lack of spare parts.
The aircraft (ST-AFK) was returning to land at Port Sudan following a pilot report of "technical problems" shortly after take-off. It crashed about 5km (3 miles) away from the airport, with the only survivor among the 117 people on board being a small child.
The aircraft took off from the Red Sea coastal airport of Port Sudan with 106 passengers and 11 crew on board at about 04:00 on 8 July bound for Sudan's capital, Khartoum. It quickly developed a technical problem, forcing it to return. The aircraft crashed in a remote area, breaking apart on impact and then burning fiercely.
Ismail, commenting on the accident, said that since the imposition of US sanctions "we cannot import any [spare parts] for the rehabilitation of these planes", but he said he did not know any details of the nature of the technical fault.
The aircraft, a 28-year-old 737-200C Adv equipped with a freight door, had been in Sudan Airways' fleet since it was delivered new in 1975, and had accumulated 35,000 cycles. It was one of three 737-200s operated by the airline. Sudan Airways' last fatal accident was in 1986, when a Fokker F27 crashed, killing 65 people. One of its F27s was destroyed in a crew training accident last year, with no fatalities.