Plane crash victims 'died on impact'

2011-08-16 22:45
Johannesburg - The head of disaster management said on Tuesday that the earliest indications were that the occupants of the Albatross aircraft which crashed in a mountainous area north-east of Tzaneen died on impact.

Hannes Steyn said that the planes were flying in formation when they crashed into a cliff at an altitude of 1 570m.

"They flew directly into the cliff. There was no mid-air collision," Steyn said

The search for the planes ended when the crash site was found at 08:15 on Tuesday on Mamotswiri Peak.

The bodies of all 13 occupants were found among the crash wreckage.

Civil Aviation Authority spokesperson Phindiwe Gwebu said investigations into the crash are underway,  and that so far indications were that the two planes, caught fire after crashing.

"Investigators will now begin collecting what is needed from the wreckage," she said.

That would be taken for testing and the authority would also check on the qualifications of the pilots flying the aircraft.

Investigations could take from six months to a year but a preliminary report could be made before then.

Crisis centre set up

The Albatross aircraft took off from Tzaneen Airport in Limpopo on Sunday at 10:30. Both planes were bound for Rand Airport in Johannesburg, after participating in the Tzaneen air show.

They were reported missing at 13:30 on the same day.

There was also no mayday broadcast before the crash.

Bad weather and low cloud conditions initially hampered the search on Monday, Search and Rescue SA spokesperson Johnny Smit said.

Earlier on Tuesday, authorities released the names of all 13 people who died.

Those on board the aircraft with registration ZU MMI were pilot Brian Gruar and passengers Marrion Anderson, Maddison and Alexandra Doak, Tess Spence, Louise Warden and Kevin Woolacott.

On board the other plane, registration ZS NJX, were pilot Peter Gildenhuys, and passengers Stuart and Peter van Oldenburg, Frans Dely, Marietjie de Witt, and Linda Pierce. Dely was a well-known Johannesburg aviation photographer.

Limpopo police said the bodies would be flown to Pretoria on Wednesday for post mortems to be conducted.

"Their bodies will be flown to forensics and pathology in Pretoria, with assistance from the SA National Defence Force," said Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi.

Families had  been informed about the deaths, but had not yet identified the victims, Mulaudzi said.

"They are receiving trauma counselling."

A crisis centre had been set up at the Rand airport.

- SAPA
Read more on:    polokwane  |  air crashes
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