6 Perish in Plane Crash

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By Petronella Sibeene

WINDHOEK

Six people were burnt to death on Friday afternoon when a small plane they were flying in crashed into a house in Windhoek’s Olympia suburb.

A report by the Ministry of Works, Transport and Communication says a Cessna 210 aircraft, registration V5 GWH with five passengers believed to have been Israeli tourists and a pilot, crashed in a residential area.

New Era established that the plane flew from Swakopmund to Windhoek’s Eros Airport en route to Mokuti Lodge in the Etosha National Park.

According to a source, the plane refuelled at Eros Airport but shortly after take-off, the aircraft lost height and crashed into a garden wall at the corner of Moses Tjitendero and Ester Brand streets in Olympia.

It is believed that the pilot communicated with airport officials that he was experiencing a problem but minutes later, he relayed a message that the problem had been solved.

Shortly afterwards the pilot sent an emergency signal and in no time the plane crashed.

All the five passengers on board and the pilot perished in the crash. There were no causalities on the ground except for damage on the property.

The Namibian Police yesterday afternoon said they needed time to do forensics to identify the crash victims. However, Nampa has quoted an Israeli newspaper, which released names of Israeli businessmen reported missing in Namibia and believed to have been on the ill-fated plane.

When New Era arrived at the accident scene at about 16h30, the remains of the deceased, which were burnt beyond recognition, were still trapped in the seats.

Emergency and fire officers were at the scene a few minutes after the plane exploded and contained the flames.

The accident attracted close to a hundred people who were all in a state of shock.

An eyewitness, Bonga Mlomo, told the New Era news team that he heard a loud noise outside while watching television in his house. When he came out to investigate, he saw a plane flying very low and it seemed to have been out of control.

“We saw the plane but we thought maybe they were playing flying up and down. Anyway, the pilot tried to avoid crashing because it looks like he attempted emergency landing on the road but ended up hitting the garden wall with the wing after which the plane burst into flames,” he said.

Another eyewitness, Tjiuripo Tjeriko, said the pilot tried to land the plane on the tarmac but instead it hit some trees before hitting the garden wall.

He said emergency authorities’ response was swift as they were at the scene to contain the fire within minutes.

Sources revealed that even before the plane took off from Eros Airport, the pilot had hinted at some problems.

The Ministry of Works, Transport and Communication said the cause of the accident is unknown and the Directorate of Aircraft Accident and Incident Investigation will work on establishing the cause.

In a statement read by the Under Secretary in the Ministry, Philip Amunyela, on Friday night the Minister of Works, Transport and Communication, Joel Kaapanda, said the report would be filed and distributed to all relevant stakeholders.

The Minister expressed his condolences to the bereaved families and those affected as a result of the accident.

This is the second small plane to crash in Windhoek’s residential area in the past three months.

In October two lives were lost – a pilot and an Italian national who was visiting Namibia. The two died instantly and were the only occupants in the plane.
The accident occurred shortly after take-off when the plane nose-dived into a thorn bush near the Trade Centre south of Windhoek just before 18h00 on the fateful day.

These accidents take place a few months after the inauguration of the Africa Civil Aviation Authority (AFRO-CAA) in Windhoek. This continental body was established to standardise and oversee licensing, training and inspection of the aviation sector in Africa.

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