Khartoum: A Russian pilot was among the victims on a plane which crashed in Sudan’s war-torn South Kordofan, killing all 32 people aboard, Moscow’s embassy confirmed on Monday.

“He was the captain,” Yury Vidakas, the embassy’s press officer, told AFP.

Vidakas could not immediately provide the name of the pilot, whom he said was “on private contract” with Alfa Airlines that operated the Antonov charter flight which crashed on Sunday.

Several small airline companies in Sudan use pilots from the former Soviet Union.

Vidakas said there was only one Russian among the dead and he did not know where the other five crew members were from.

The official Suna news agency said all 26 passengers, including top government officials, generals and journalists, also died in the crash.

They were members of a delegation, led by Khartoum’s Guidance and Endowments Minister Gazi Al Saddiq, travelling to the South Kordofan town of Talodi for a ceremony to mark the start of Eid.

The plane “crashed into a hill” because of bad weather, killing the entire delegation, Culture and Information Minister, Ahmad Bilal Osman, said on official radio.

Accidents are common among Sudan’s ageing fleet of aircraft.

Europe bans all Sudanese airlines, including Alfa, for safety reasons.

Four Russian crew on an Ilyushin cargo plane were killed in 2008 when it crashed shortly after takeoff from Khartoum.

Rebels in South Kordofan have been battling government troops since June last year but said they had nothing to do with the crash, which happened in a government-controlled area.