Police: Witness saw planes going down

2011-08-15 15:17

Johannesburg - A search and rescue team was hiking to an area where a Maake community leader said he saw two light aircraft go down, Limpopo police said on Monday.

"As soon as we got the information from the man we asked the defence force to use their helicopter to go to the village," Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi said.

"The helicopter couldn't get through because of the weather and so we have dispatched a team of rescue personnel and police who are on the ground now."

The route to the claimed wreckage site was about two hours long and was not accessible by air, he said.

Mulaudzi also denied reports carried by SABC radio news that a wreckage had been found.

"We are at the joint-operation centre, everything is directed from here.

"The reports were disturbing to us [police] and the family," he said.

The Albatross planes, carrying six people each, were presumed to be in the George's Valley area, between Polokwane and Tzaneen.

Weather problems

They took off from a landing strip in Tarentaal, a small farming community in Tzaneen, on Sunday and were headed to Rand Airport in Germiston.

Overnight foot patrols had searched in Tzaneen for the two planes which went missing while returning to Gauteng after an air show there.

The air search was suspended on Monday morning because of bad weather but ground searching had continued.

Search and Rescue SA said the weather was looking better on Monday afternoon and they would be able to continue the air search.

An SA National Defence Force helicopter, with a rescue team of 10, was also searching the area, said spokesperson Johnny Smit.

It was the only aircraft that was well-equipped to fly through the poor weather.

The search on Monday afternoon had moved south of Wolkberg, which is part of the Drakensberg range, about 80km from Tzaneen.

- SAPA

Read more on:    polokwane  |  search and rescue  |  air crashes
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