Plane crashes: 13 victims named

2011-08-16 16:22
Johannesburg - The bodies of the 13 victims of the Tzaneen plane crash tragedy, will be flown to Pretoria on Wednesday for post-mortems to be conducted, Limpopo police said.

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

The deceased, including two children, were found on Tuesday morning among the wreckage of two Albatross aircraft that crashed on Mamotswiri Peak.

Both planes took off from Tzaneen Airport on Sunday at 10:30, bound for Rand Airport in Johannesburg, after participating in an air show.

The aircraft were then reported missing at 13:30 on the same day.

Cops found crash site

Search and Rescue SA spokesperson Johnny Smit said the crash site was discovered by a police helicopter at 08:15 on Tuesday. Bad weather and low cloud conditions initially hampered the search on Monday.

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

On board the second plane, 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.

Their ages were not immediately available.

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

"They are receiving trauma counselling."

Aircraft caught fire after crashing

A crisis centre has also been set up at Rand Airport.

Meanwhile, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) said investigations into the crash have commenced.

Spokesperson Phindiwe Gwebu said so far, indications are that the two aircraft carrying six and seven passengers respectively, caught fire after crashing.

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

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

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

Mopani District municipal mayor Joshua Matlou said earlier that the planes were flying in formation when they crashed at an altitude of 1 570m.

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

There was also no mayday broadcast before the crash and indications were that the occupants of both planes died on impact.

Transport Minister Sibusiso Ndebele thanked search and rescue teams, as well as volunteers involved in the search and rescue operation.
- SAPA
Read more on:    caa  |  polokwane  |  air crashes
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