News24

CAA piecing together crash

2009-09-25 09:03

Durban - Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) investigators were still in Durban on Friday morning, trying to piece together the cause of an SA Airlink plane crash into a school ground in Merebank.

"The investigators will not be back at the office until the wreckage has been removed," said CAA spokesperson Phindiwe Gwebu.
"The preliminary report will be compiled as soon as they are back."

The report might be released as soon as Friday afternoon, she said, but more likely on Saturday.

In a statement on the CAA's website, it said the plane, carrying three passengers, "experienced engine problems after take-off from Durban International Airport" on Thursday.

"The aircraft was unable to maintain altitude and the crew attempted to land on a sports field of a local school at a suburb just three kilometres north east of the airport.

"The aircraft had diverted from Pietermaritzburg on Wednesday evening due to bad weather."

The two pilots, named by The Star newspaper as Allistair Freeman, 40, and Sonja Bierman, were "severely injured" while a flight attendant, Rodelle Oosthuizen, suffered back and neck injuries.

A municipal worker on the ground, identified as Ebrahim Mthethwa by The Times newspaper, was "also injured and was taken to hospital".

"Fortunately, no fire erupted as a result of the crash, even though the aircraft has been extensively damaged," the CAA statement said.

"It took two-and-a-half hours to extract the last crew member from the cockpit, without causing further injuries."