News Southern

Kiunga Plane Crash – Two Weeks On


By Serah Aupong – EMTV News, Port Moresby  

Today marks two weeks since the Kiunga plane crash that claimed 12 lives: 11 of these being from Telefomin in Sandaun province, alongside and an Australian pilot.

Investigations into the cause of the plane crash are continuing, while relatives of the victims make preparations to take their loved ones home for burial.

The location of the accident site has posed some challenges for the investigation team.

David Inau, the CEO of the Accident Investigation Commission (AIC), said in a report that the wreckage was submerged in water following heavy rain and rising floodwaters, which forced them to move the wreckage to the Kiunga Airport.

This was done on Friday of last week.    

The manufacturer of the aircraft’s engine is Rolls Royce, and a representative is already in the country to contribute to the investigation.

At this stage, investigators have identified both engines, both propellers and the caution-warning panel as possible contributing factors to the plane crash, and will send those parts overseas for further analysis.

As for the deceased, the remains of the Australian pilot, Benjamin Picard, have been released to his family after an autopsy was carried out last Friday.

For the 11 passengers, they remain at the Kiunga Hospital awaiting an autopsy.

Inau said in the report that a coronial inquiry has commenced and further lab testing on the 12 bodies will be done in Australia.

As far as funding towards this investigation, the AIC paid for the autopsy on the pilot.

For the 11 passengers, relatives were told that they would need to pay K27,000 for their autopsies, but as of yesterday Sunbird Aviation has paid that bill and according to Inau, most of the bill incurred in this investigation will be met by Sunbird Aviation.

Meanwhile, relatives in Kiunga have started shipping materials to Oksapmin for burial preparations to begin for the 11 passengers, as they await further news on the release of their loved ones remains.

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