Papua New Guinea:28 Killed in Plane Crash & Survivor details escape from burning plane
Laaska News Oct. 15,2011
Survivor details escape from burning plane
28 Killed in Papua New Guinea Plane Crash
Twenty-eight people were killed in a plane crash in a remote region of Papua New Guinea on Thursday. Four others reportedly survived the crash.
An aircraft operated by Airlines PNG crashed while flying from the country’s second biggest city Lae to the resort hub of Madang.
Details about the accident are not yet known, but the plane is said to have gone down during a violent storm.
According to local media, 32 people were on board, and 3 cabin crew and a passenger survived. The 4 have been hospitalized.
Most of the passengers were reportedly parents traveling to attend their children’s college graduation in Madang.
More than 20 plane crashes have occurred in Papua New Guinea since 2000.
Survivor details escape from burning plane
By PNG correspondent Map: Papua New Guinea
A man who survived a plane crash which left 28 people dead in Papua New Guinea has described how he crawled from the burning plane through a hole in the shattered fuselage.
The Dash Eight flying from Lae to Madang was carrying families and friends of students attending a graduation ceremony at a college in the resort port town when it crashed yesterday afternoon.
Only four of the 32 people on board survived. Among them are the two pilots, an Australian and a New Zealander. None of them has life-threatening injuries.
Local journalist Scott Waide has been to the Madang hospital where the survivors are being treated and says one of them is a man believed to be a Chinese national.
He says the man was brought in at about 1:30am this morning and told nurses he escaped the burning plane through a crack in the fuselage.
“He told the nurses he was sitting on the seventh seat and the plane broke in half,” Waide said. “While struggling to get out, his arms got burnt and his back got burnt. The nurses say 27 per cent of his body was burnt.”
Distressed students from the Divine Word University gathered at the hospital in Madang for news of their relatives.
“At the hospital there are crowds of people, some of them are Divine Word University students who are just waiting for any news at all from the crash site. I think some of them have already gotten confirmation that their parents are in the crash and it is just absolutely devastating for them,” Waide said.
“Just a few minutes ago there were one or two students very distraught by news that their parents had died.
“The hospital is in lockdown. They are preparing the outpatients’ area just in case there are body bags that come in. The hospital is also facing a shortage of body bags; it doesn’t have enough body bags.”
Rescuers reached the scene of the crash this morning and Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs said “initial indications” were that no Australians had lost their lives.
“Airlines PNG and local authorities have advised that there were 28 passengers and 4 crew on board. They understand that four people survived the crash, including one Australian pilot and one New Zealand pilot,” a DFAT spokeswoman said.
Locals said there was a violent thunderstorm in the area as the plane approached Madang.
Sid O’Toole, the spokesman for Papua New Guinea’s Accident Investigation Commission (AIC), said the plane went down over land about 20 kilometres south of Madang.
AIC chief executive David Inau told The World Today that there was no road access to the crash site and investigators used a helicopter to get to the location.
He said it was too early to speculate about the causes of the crash.
“Accidents happen and accidents happen due to various circumstances and reasons. Some are weather-related, some are crew-related, some are mechanical,” he said.
“Yes, we do have helicopter and aircraft accidents here in Papua New Guinea but if you look at the number of flight hours and the type of flying we done in this country and the terrain … yeah, we are susceptible to aircraft crashes.”
Mr Inau says that although Airlines PNG has grounded its Dash fleet, there is no suggestion the other planes have mechanical issues.
“That’s a standard process in the event of an accident. It has happened worldwide, it is a standard practice,” he said.
More than 20 planes have crashed since 2000 in Papua New Guinea, where the rugged terrain and lack of internal connecting roads make air travel crucial for around 6 million citizens.
A 20-seat Twin Otter crashed in August 2009, killing nine Australians and one Japanese tourist on the short journey from Port Moresby to the popular Kokoda trekking site.
That accident – in which an aircraft ploughed into a mountainside – also involved an Airlines PNG plane, with a subsequent report ruling pilot error was likely at fault in conditions of poor visibility.
PNG has since introduced legislation requiring all aircraft carrying more than nine people to have a cockpit recorder installed.
Australians concerned about family or friends on the plane are being urged to call a DFAT hotline on 1300 555 135.
October 14, 2011