More than 30 unauthorized passengers were on the aircraft that crashed in South Sudan Wednesday, according to its lone adult survivor. Wuor Arop held a baby on the plane to protect her, the only other survivor of the crash, the Associated Press reported Saturday.
Arop broke limbs in six places and was recovering from a head injury in a hospital Saturday. The 13-month-old child he held, who is not a relative, had a cut on her forehead and a broken leg.
After paying 500 South Sudanese pounds, Arop was able to get on the Soviet-built Antonov AN-12 cargo aircraft, although he was not issued a ticket. He was given a seat on the plane, as were eight other passengers, but the rest sat among cargo.
To get on the flight, he gave the money to an unofficial broker, who split the money with the aircraft’s pilot. Cargo on the plane included beer, sandals and medicine.
“The baby I grabbed, [she] was near me,” Arop told AP. “Plus my friend who was near me, he stepped on me, so I grabbed him.”
At least 37 people were killed in the plane crash along the banks of the Nile River. The plane was headed from the South Sudan capital of Juba to the Paloich oil fields in the Upper Nile at the time of the disaster, AP reported. Arop was heading back to Paloich to his job with the Danish Refugee Council.
In South Sudan, cargo planes sometimes carry passengers, BBC News reported. The plane was operated by Allied Services Ltd., which declined to comment to AP Saturday.
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The aircraft was owned by Asia Airways, a company in Tajikistan, BBC News said. The plane made its first flight in 1971.