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28 dead after Papua New Guinea air crash

The plane crashed in a remote forest during a violent storm – four people survived.

File photo of Papua New Guinea
File photo of Papua New Guinea

TWENTY EIGHT PEOPLE have died after a  plane crashed in stormy weather in Papua New Guinea’s remote forests.

Four people survived the crash on the South Pacific island nation’s northern coast, including two pilots, one Australian and one from New Zealand.

One flight attendant and one passenger also survived, Airlines PNG said in a statement.

All of those killed are believed to be Papua New Guinea nationals.

The Airlines PNG Dash 8 aircraft crashed while flying from Lae to the resort hub of Madang.

The twin-propellor plane went down 20 kilometres south of Madang. In a statement, the airline said there was “an emergency situation” on board the aircraft during its approach to Madang airport:

It has also been confirmed there was bad weather in the area at the time. The crew attempted to conduct a controlled emergency landing but the aircraft broke up on impact. Part of the fuselage caught fire.

Trevor Hattersley, the Australian High Commission’s warden in Madang, said the plane went down during a violent storm in an extremely remote jungle not far from the coast.

Capt Bill Spencer, a 64-year-old pilot who survived the crash, has 45 years flying experience, while First Officer Campbell Wagstaff, who also survived, has over 2,500 hours flying experience.

Airlines PNG said it has launched a full investigation into the possible cause and it has temporarily grounded its 11 remaining Dash 8 aircraft.

Airline spokesman Erastus Kamburi said:

This is our commitment to the people of PNG, the families of those lost, and the survivors of this terrible tragedy: We will give you our total support in the days and months ahead. We will do whatever is needed to find the answers as to what happened and to share those answers with you all.

Residents of a nearby village rushed to help, pulling people from the wreckage. The storm had left the lone road from the crash site to Madang flooded, so rescuers had to get the four survivors to the nearest beach and transport them to Madang by boat.

Emergency services reached the scene and investigators are expected today.

One of the survivors’ legs is severely injured, but another survivor is in fairly good shape.

Most of the passengers were parents travelling to attend their children’s university graduation ceremony in Madang this weekend, according to the Australian Associated Press news agency.

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Associated Press

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