Military plane crashes in South African mountains
updated 9:59 AM EST, Thu December 6, 2012
- Rescue crews scouring the area for survivors
- Mandela, 94, has not appeared in public since 2010
- He gets round-the-clock care after abdominal surgery this year
Johannesburg, South Africa (CNN) -- A South African military plane crashed in the mountains as it headed to an airport near the rural hometown of Nelson Mandela, authorities said Thursday.
A military spokesman declined to comment on the plane's mission or the number of people aboard, but said rescuers are searching for survivors.
Local media reported that the plane, which had taken off from a Pretoria airbase Wednesday night, was carrying a team of doctors responsible for the former president's health care.
However, two sources close to Mandela said the passengers aboard the plane were not doctors for the anti-apartheid icon.
Rescue crews found the wreckage around the Drakensberg mountains, but it is too early to tell what happened, said Siphiwe Dlamini, the spokesman for the defense department.
It was headed to an airport in Mthatha, the spokesman said. The small town is about 20 miles (30 kilometers) from the Qunu village where Mandela now lives.
Mandela, 94, has not appeared in public since the 2010 World Cup hosted by South Africa.
The former president gets round-the-clock care after abdominal surgery this year and an acute respiratory infection in 2011.
The Nobel Peace Prize laureate spent 27 years in prison for fighting against oppression of blacks in South Africa. He became the nation's first black president in 1994, four years after he was freed from prison.
Despite his rare appearances, Mandela retains his popularity and is considered a hero of democracy in the nation.
CNN's Robyn Curnow contributed from South Africa and Faith Karimi from Atlanta
Part of complete coverage on
updated 10:26 AM EST, Wed February 6, 2013
Advocates say the exam includes unnecessarily invasive and irrelevant procedures -- like a so-called "two finger" test.
updated 7:09 PM EST, Tue February 5, 2013
Supplies of food, clothing and fuel are running short in Damascus and people are going hungry as the civil war drags on.
updated 1:01 PM EST, Wed February 6, 2013
Supporters of Richard III want a reconstruction of his head to bring a human aspect to a leader portrayed as a murderous villain.
updated 10:48 AM EST, Tue February 5, 2013
Robert Fowler spent 130 days held hostage by the same al Qaeda group that was behind the Algeria massacre. He shares his experience.
updated 12:07 AM EST, Wed February 6, 2013
As "We are the World" plays, a video shows what looks like a nuclear attack on the U.S. Jim Clancy reports on a bizarre video from North Korea.
The relationship is, once again, cold enough to make Obama's much-trumpeted "reset" in Russian-U.S. relations seem thoroughly off the rails.
Ten years on, what do you think the Iraq war has changed in you, and in your country? Send us your thoughts and experiences.
updated 7:15 AM EST, Tue February 5, 2013
Musician Daniela Mercury has sold more than 12 million albums worldwide over a career span of nearly 30 years.
Photojournalist Alison Wright travelled the world to capture its many faces in her latest book, "Face to Face: Portraits of the Human Spirit."
updated 7:06 PM EST, Tue February 5, 2013
Europol claims 380 soccer matches, including top level ones, were fixed - as the scandal widens, CNN's Dan Rivers looks at how it's done.
updated 7:37 AM EST, Wed February 6, 2013
That galaxy far, far away is apparently bigger than first thought. The "Star Wars" franchise will get two spinoff movies, Disney announced.
updated 2:18 AM EST, Fri February 8, 2013
It's an essential part of any trip, an activity we all take part in. Yet almost none of us are any good at it. Souvenir buying is too often an obligatory slog.