32 killed in Sudan helicopter crash

A Sudanese government helicopter has crashed before landing in a remote town in the country's southern mountains, killing all 32 people on board.

The victims included the minister of endowment, a leading politician, two army generals and a TV crew.

The delegation was travelling to the volatile South Kordofan state to attend prayers on the first day of the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of the fasting month of Ramadan.

The helicopter crashed "due to harsh weather conditions" in a mountainous area near Talodi, a small town about 406 miles south-west of the capital, Khartoum, according to the state-run news agency, SUNA.

A Sudanese official said the aircraft slammed into a mountain just before it was to land in Talodi and blamed "zero visibility" due to the seasonal heavy rains in the region. He said a search team that reached the site of the crash was having trouble identifying the victims as many bodies were charred.

The office of Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir released a list of all 26 passengers and six crew members who perished in the crash.

Minister of Endowment Ghadi al-Sadeq and a leading member of Sudan's Peace and Justice Party, Makki Balayela, were on the list, as were two generals and other officials. A four-member TV crew from Sudan's state television also died in the crash.

Sudan has a poor aviation safety record, with a large number of jet accidents occurring on landing. In late 2010, a plane carrying 36 people crashed on landing in Sudan's western Darfur region, killing at least two people.

And in May 2008 - before South Sudan became a separate country - a plane crash in a remote area in the south killed 24 people, including key members of the regional southern Sudanese government.

Five years earlier, a Sudan Airways Boeing 737 en route from Port Sudan to Khartoum crashed soon after take-off, killing all 115 people on board.