The death of Sudanese Vice-President John Garang, a former rebel leader, in a helicopter crash set off deadly riots in Khartoum Monday and raised fears that the gap he leaves in a fledgling unity government could plunge the country into another bloodbath. Not only the commoners are in grief, but the world leaders are as well.
A Ugandan official said the wreckage of the helicopter and the bodies of Garang and the 13 other people on board have been located. He said a UN search team found them in an isolated region near Sudan's border with Kenya and Uganda.
'A UN team that went on the ground witnessed the wreckage,' the official was quoted as saying by Forbes. 'It said that all people on board died.'
Leaders in the central government, and within Mr. Garang's own disparate political movement, appealed for calm even as hundreds of youthful former rebel supporters looted cars and fought security forces. State TV reported at least 20 dead, Globe anв Mail reports.
The world authorities were shocked by the death of Garang and expressed sorrow and regret.
UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan urged the Sudanese people to remain calm after the death of Garang, and to carry out the historic peace deal signed in January between the former southern rebel leader and Khartoum.
"It was with great sorrow that I learned about the death of Vice President Garang," Annan told reporters at the UN headquarters in New York, describing Garang as "a man who had lived and fought for peace and one united Sudan."
Annan said he had spoken with Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, who assured him that "they are going to move forward with the peace process."
African Union Commission Chairman Alpha Oumar Konare said he was shocked upon hearing the news of Garang's death.
He expressed deep sorrow upon the untimely death of Garang in a helicopter accident on his way back to Sudan from Uganda.
The European Commission (EC), the executive body of the European Union (EU), expressed its "deep regret" over the tragic death of Garang.
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said in a statement, "I offer my condolences on the tragic death of Sudanese First Vice President John Garang to his wife Rebecca Garang, his family, and to the people of Sudan."
Garang became vice president only three weeks ago following a peace deal that ended 21 years of civil war between north and south Sudan, Forbes reminds.
Read more on the death of Garang