PNG SMALL PLANE CRASH CLAIMS SIX LIVES

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Went down in mountains of Morobe province

By Bustin Anzu PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Dec. 31, 2009) – In Papua New Guinea, A LIGHT aircraft crashed into the mountains of Boana, Morobe Province yesterday killing six people who were on board.

[PIR editor’s note: Morobe Province is a province on the northern coast of Papua New Guinea with 171 languages. The provincial capital, and largest city, is Lae. The province covers 34,500 square kilometers and has a population of approximately 540,000.]

The expatriate pilot is fighting for his life in a hospital in Cairns after he was airlifted from the crash site to Lae by a rescue team and later flown to Australia.

The plane crashed into the side of the Bengun hill, located between Gumbum and Tunam villages, about three hours from Boana, the district Headquarters of the Nawaeb electorate.

The pilot’s mayday signal was intercepted by a helicopter which followed the signal to the crash site and rescued the pilot and rushed him to Lae for medical evacuation.

Police and medical officers who flew to the crash site retrieved all the bodies including two children and were taken to the Angau Memorial Hospital morgue.

Provincial Police Commander Superintendent Peter Guinness who went with the team to the crash site said the plane was severely burnt and they could not do much but wait for the Civil Aviation Authority to carry out investigation.

The plane, owned by Kiunga Aviation, based in Lae was on its way to Baindoang in the hinterlands of Nawaeb from Nadzab airport early yesterday morning when the pilot encountered a technical problem and decided to return to Nadzab when it crashed.

Only the tail section was intact at the crash site while the front and rest of the plane was burnt out. The pilot, who suffered burns, was considered a miracle as the front of the plane was also burnt out.

According to Ward 17 councillor of the Erap Wain Local Level Government, David Gaman, they heard the plane flying over very early in the morning towards Baindoang and Kasanombe areas.

But not very long it returned and they could hear loud noises coming from the plane and then the engine went off and it glided to a hill covered with grass near their village.

"It came down and crashed and we saw smoke coming from the plane and we rushed to see the plane," he said at the crash site.

Locals Martha Bob and Morbie Jonah, with the help of others were able to rescue the pilot who was near the crashed plane calling out for help.

They went and took the pilot to a helicopter which had landed near the crash site and took him to Lae.

The pilot was later medivac to Cairns in Australia for further medical treatment in the evening.

This is the second worst plane crash to occur in Papua New Guinea this year. In August, a Twin Otter aircraft owned by Airlines PNG crashed into the mountains of Kokoda, killing 13 people on board including the pilot.

Of those killed, nine were Australians and four were Papua New Guineans.

Investigation into this crash is still continuing.

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