Plane crashes in South Sudan, witnesses say dozens killed

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Cargo Plane Crashes in South Sudan

A Russian-built cargo plane with passengers on board crashed on Wednesday after taking off from the airport in South Sudan's capital, killing dozens of people, witnesses said.

An official said three people on board survived.

The precise death toll was not immediately clear after the Antonov-12 B plane turbo prop plane crashed soon after take off, leaving chunks of wreckage, bodies and cargo strewn along a bank of the White Nile River.

See photos from the scene:

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South Sudan plane crash
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Plane crashes in South Sudan, witnesses say dozens killed
JUBA, SOUTH SUDAN - NOVEMBER 04: Wreckage of Russian cargo plane is seen in Juba, South Sudan, on November 04, 2015. A Russian cargo plane with 20 people on board crashed two minutes after take off from Juba International Airport. (Photo by Samir Bol/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
JUBA, SOUTH SUDAN - NOVEMBER 04: South Sudanese people mourn for the crashed Russian cargo plane victims in Juba, South Sudan, on November 04, 2015. A Russian cargo plane with 20 people on board crashed two minutes after take off from Juba International Airport. (Photo by Samir Bol/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
People gather at the site where a cargo plane crashed into a small farming community on a small island in the White Nile river, close to Juba airport in the Hai Gabat residential area, on November 4, 2015. At least 25 people were killed on November 4 when a plane crash-landed shortly after taking off from South Sudan's capital Juba, an AFP reporter said. AFP PHOTO/Charles Lomodong (Photo credit should read CHARLES LOMODONG/AFP/Getty Images)
People gather at the site where a cargo plane crashed into a small farming community on a small island in the White Nile river, close to Juba airport in the Hai Gabat residential area, on November 4, 2015. At least 25 people were killed on November 4 when a plane crash-landed shortly after taking off from South Sudan's capital Juba, an AFP reporter said. AFP PHOTO/Charles Lomodong (Photo credit should read CHARLES LOMODONG/AFP/Getty Images)
People gather at the site where a cargo plane crashed into a small farming community on a small island in the White Nile river, close to Juba airport in the Hai Gabat residential area, on November 4, 2015. At least 25 people were killed on November 4 when a plane crash-landed shortly after taking off from South Sudan's capital Juba, an AFP reporter said. AFP PHOTO/Charles Lomodong (Photo credit should read CHARLES LOMODONG/AFP/Getty Images)
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The Civil Aviation Authority said the number of dead was still being counted.

A Reuters witness saw 41 bodies, some of which were covered by cloth. A police officer, who did not give his name because he was not authorized to speak to the media, also put the death toll at 41. Another witness counted at least 32 killed.

Presidential spokesman Ateny Wek Ateny told Reuters the plane was carrying 18 people, including the six foreign crew, according to official documents. He said 15 of them died and three South Sudanese nationals survived, including a child.

"This is the number given to us by the (control) tower," he told Reuters in reference to those on board. Asked about figures suggesting a higher toll, he said it could be people killed on the ground but said he had no indication about any such deaths.

Officials said the plane belonged to freight and logistics firm Allied Services Ltd. Officials at the company could not immediately be reached for comment.

"We have rushed to the site of crash which is located near the airport, southeast of Juba International Airport (across) the river," said the chief executive of the Civil Aviation Authority at Juba airport, Stephen Warikozi.

"We have secured the site of crash and also we are in the stage of recovering bodies and black box," he said. "We are still now recovering the dead bodies and we cannot give you the exact number."

The plane, registration number EY406, had been on its way to Paloch, in the north of South Sudan, Warikozi said.

The presidential spokesman said the six crew were comprised of five Armenians and one Russian. He said all the others on the flight were South Sudanese.

Armenia's Foreign Ministry confirmed that five of its citizens who were members of the crew died in the crash. It cited its embassy in Egypt.

(Additional reporting by Reuters Television and Alexander Winning in Moscow; Writing by Edmund Blair; Editing by Drazen Jorgic and Dominic Evans)

RELATED: See notable plane crashes in recent years

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Notable plane crashes in recent years
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Plane crashes in South Sudan, witnesses say dozens killed
A photo taken on July 23, 2014 shows the crash site of the downed Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, in a field near the village of Grabove, in the Donetsk region. The first bodies from flight MH17 arrived in the Netherlands on July 23 almost a week after it was shot down over Ukraine, with grieving relatives and the king and queen solemnly receiving the as yet unidentified victims. AFP PHOTO/ BULENT KILIC (Photo credit should read BULENT KILIC/AFP/Getty Images)
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GAITHERSBURG, MD - DEC 08: Three people were killed in this house after it caught fire due to a plane that crashed just yards away. A plane crashed into houses on Drop Forge Lane in Gaithersburg, Maryland today. Three persons were killed in the plane and 3 persons were killed in one of the homes. (Photo by Michael S. Williamson/The Washington Post via Getty Images
Indonesian rescuers search through wreckage of the Trigana Air ATR 42-300 twin-turboprop plane at the crash site in the mountainous area of Oksibil on August 18, 2015. A plane that crashed in eastern Indonesia was found on August 18 'completely destroyed' with the bodies of all 54 passengers and crew strewn amid the wreckage in a fire-blackened jungle clearing, officials said. AFP PHOTO (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/Getty Images)
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