Rain hampers search for missing planes

2011-08-16 07:16
Johannesburg - The search for two aircraft that went missing in George's Valley near Tzaneen resumed on Tuesday morning, despite rainy conditions, Limpopo police said.

"The weather has gone from bad to worse. It is raining and foggy," said police spokesperson Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi.

It was unclear how many hectares or kilometres the rescue team would have to cover, but Mulaudzi said a plan had been devised.

In an attempt to cover more ground, six teams would split up to hike along different sections of the route. Each team would have a dedicated helicopter assisting.

However, by 07:00 none of the helicopters had taken off due to the inclement weather. Mulaudzi said it was hoped that the helicopters would take to the skies later in the day, weather permitting.

Mulaudzi said the teams were "well-equipped" for the wet conditions.

13 people missing

The search was put on hold at 18:00 on Monday.

An Oryx helicopter from the South African Air Force was expected to join search efforts, said Mulaudzi.

It was raining in Tzaneen early on Tuesday morning as search and rescue personnel and family members arrived at the Mopani District Municipality Disaster Management Centre.

There was also a large media contingent waiting outside to hear any news.

The Albatross planes, with a total of 13 people on board, were presumed to have crashed in the George's Valley area, between Polokwane and Tzaneen, on Sunday.

Initially it had been reported that 12 people were aboard the two aircraft, but it has since been confirmed that it was 13 people.

The planes took off from a landing strip in Tzaneen after an air show and were headed to the Rand Airport in Germiston.

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

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