A cargo plane carrying passengers crashed shortly after taking off from an airport in South Sudan's capital of Juba, killing at least 41 people both on board the plane and on the ground, airport officials have told Al Jazeera.
Police on Wednesday were pulling the bodies of men, women and children out of the wreckage of the Russian-built Antonov cargo plane, which smashed into a farming community on an island on the White Nile River.
A crewmember and a child on board the flight survived the crash, presidential spokesman Ateny Wek Ateny told Reuters news agency.
Bad weather was hampering the rescue effort, with heavy rain making it difficult for rescuers to look for more survivors or the bodies of victims.
The plane may have had about 20 people on board, including crew and "probably" 10 to 15 passengers, Ateny said, but added: "We need to confirm how many people were on board." It is believed that many may not have been wearing seatbelts at the time of the crash.
In addition, an unknown number of people were killed on the ground as the Antonov plane crashed near where some fishermen were working. "We don't know the number of people that were killed on the ground," he added.
A police officer, who did not give his name because he was not authorized to speak to the media, told Reuters at the scene that at least 41 people died, but said the number could climb.
Earlier, South Sudanese media had said the cargo plane carried five Russian crew and seven passengers.
Radmir Gainanov, spokesman for Russia's diplomatic mission in Uganda, which also oversees South Sudan, said the embassy was in touch with local authorities, including the defense ministry.
"We are clarifying details," he told AFP news agency from Uganda.
Juba's airport is the busiest in the war-torn country.
The airport hosts regular commercial flights, as well as a constant string of military aircraft and cargo planes delivering aid to remote regions cut off by road.
Civil war broke out in South Sudan in December 2013 when President Salva Kiir accused his former deputy, Riek Machar, of planning a coup, setting off a cycle of retaliatory killings that has split the landlocked country along ethnic lines.
Fighting continues despite an August peace deal, but battles today are far from the capital.
Al Jazeera and wire services