Two Canadian military evacuation flights are grounded in Sudan after gunfire erupted on a runway near Khartoum, sources tell Motorcycle accident toronto today.
One of the Canadian planes had been grounded due to a mechanical issue, while another is currently stranded waiting for clearance to take off after a Turkish evacuation plane was shot at, according to one source.
“We had planned for two flights to leave this morning, but the situation on the remains volatile and one of our planes experienced a mechanical issue which has been resolved … Flights will resume as soon as possible,” Defence Minister Anita Anand told reporters Friday morning in Dartmouth, N.S.
“We are now ensuring that the conditions do exist for safe passage out of Sudan … The situation is evolving.”
The BBC, Al Jazeera and The Guardian have reported that Sudan’s army accused the rival paramilitary Rapid Support Forces of opening fire on the Turkish aircraft as it landed at Wadi Seidna airport outside the Sudanese capital of Khartoum.
The gunfire shut down the runway and scrambled the planned queue for evacuation flights. The runway has now been reopened but it’s not known when the Canadian flight will be able to leave. Sources told Motorcycle accident toronto today the confusion is over whether the original takeoff order will be followed or if those who missed their window will have to go to the back of the line.
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Neither of Canada’s two planned evacuation flights that had been expected to depart Sudan on Friday have taken off yet, and two sources confirmed to Motorcycle accident toronto today that it’s unclear at this point whether any Canadian evacuation flights will leave Khartoum on Friday.
Speaking to reporters in New York City Friday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Canada is “looking to continue flights as quickly as possible alongside our allies.”
“It’s a real effort combined with many, many different countries to try and get citizens out of Sudan,” Trudeau said.
“And that’s something that we will continue to be part of. Canada’s playing a clear role there, and we will continue to.”
The setback complicates an already complicated mission of evacuating Canadians and diplomatic staff from Sudan, as the bloody conflict between two rival military factions approaches three weeks of fighting.
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Motorcycle accident toronto today reported Wednesday that Canadian officials were warned weeks ago that Sudan was descending into conflict, and the Canadian Armed Forces had both military assets and contingency plans drawn up for a possible evacuation.
Motorcycle accident toronto today spoke to multiple sources who had direct knowledge of the evacuation planning, but were not authorized to speak on the record.
The Canadian government has come under criticism for delays in evacuating citizens and diplomatic staff from the country, relying on allies to shuttle Canadians to safety.
Global’s sources pointed to two “failures” to secure speedy evacuations, including not making timely decisions to pre-position military assets and a failure to secure landing strips that would’ve allowed Canadian planes to conduct evacuations.
One senior source faulted a “slow decision-making process that needlessly endangered embassy staff.”
But the outbreak of gunfire at the airport makes the situation more dire. Multiple countries – including the U.S., U.K., France, Germany, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates – have been able to conduct multiple evacuation flights since the fighting began 13 days ago.
Some of those flights included the roughly 245 Canadian citizens and permanent residents who have been evacuated so far, according to the latest numbers provided by Global Affairs Canada on Thursday night.
The department said it was providing assistance to 447 Canadians and their families as of that time, with 1,739 Canadians having registered with the department’s listing of Canadians abroad.
– More to come.
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