RAF plane drama in South Sudan evacuation

Details have emerged of dramatic scenes surrounding the evacuation of Britons from South Sudan in which an RAF plane was forced to perform a "daring, precision landing".

An RAF C17 Globemaster transport plane, which had completed a nine-hour, 3,500-mile journey from Brize Norton air base in Oxfordshire, arrived yesterday to find the runway at Juba airport blocked by a stricken Sudanese jet.

Locals and foreign nationals gather at Juba International Airport waiting for flights leaving the country. Credit: Reuters

Briton Dave Stanley, who was waiting for evacuation, said the nose undercarriage of the Boeing 737 appeared to have collapsed with the sound of an explosion as it landed shortly before the RAF aircraft's arrival.

UK nationals, who had gathered at the airport after days of escalating gunfire in the South Sudanese capital, saw the plane which was supposed to take them to safety circling above them, and were told at one point that it would have to call its mission off and return the following day.

But Mr Stanley explained a crane was found at the last minute, which was used to tow the stranded jet off the runway.

Wing Commander Stuart Lindsell, said:"We practise short landings in training but getting down on a runway with a crashed aircraft taking up a large part of it would really concentrate the mind and is way outside what we would normally expect.

"I think it's fair to say that this C17 captain and his crew have had one of the toughest days anyone on this squadron has had since we were stood up 12 years ago."

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