Plane Crashes in Sandstorm in Yemen; 58 Killed
SAN’A, Yemen (AP) _ A Soviet-built military transport plane crashed in a sandstorm near Aden, killing all 58 people aboard, officials said Wednesday. All the victims were Yemenis.
The plane crashed Tuesday while on a flight to Aden from the island of Socotra, a former Soviet military base 500 miles off Aden. There were no reports of any top officials on the plane and sabotage was not suspected.
Yemeni officials said 58 people died, including children. The official news agency SABA said the plane had a six-member crew. The passengers were 36 civilians and 16 non-civilians including sailors from the navy garrison at Socotra and members of the island’s police and security forces.
The plane crashed into a sandy area at Bir Fabr on the Gulf of Aden coast about 60 miles from the airport at Aden, the capital of the former South Yemen, which merged with the north two years ago.
An oil-industry executive who was on a plane that landed in Aden shortly before the crash said he saw a ″wall of sand coming from the east.″ He spoke on condition of anonymity.
Airport officials said visibility around Aden was reduced to zero at the time of the crash.
Foreign Minister Abdel-Karim al-Iriyani said the plane crashed in extremely poor visibility after it twice attempted to land at Bir Fabr.
The plane was identified as an Antonov, but the model was not given. The Yemeni air force is known to have An-12, An-24 and An-26 turboprop transport planes.