News Southern

Relatives of Kiunga Plane Crash Call for Assistance

By Serah Aupong – EM TV News, Kiunga

Relatives of the 11 Kiunga plane crash victims from Oksapmin are calling for help to repatriate the bodies of their loved ones home.

After finally being allowed access to the bodies, the relatives say the bodies are deteriorating fast and need repatriation arrangements to be done quickly.

The bodies have been at the Kiunga District Hospital Morgue since the plane crash 3 weeks ago.

Oswald Tumku, chairman of the hauskrai committee said they were told that the owner of the commercial airline, Sunbird Aviation, would be paying for the repatriation of the bodies to Oksapmin.

Sunbird Aviation is owned by the Vanimo Catholic Diocese. Several attempts by EMTV News to talk to the CEO, have been unsuccessful.

Kiunga hospital morgue itself is under stress. When EMTV News spoke with the senior medical officer two days after the fatal crash, Dr Julius Plinduo described the state of the hospital.

Repatriating the bodies’ home would require one charter on a third level airline, per body, which would cost around eight to ten thousand kina per charter.

Speaking to EMTV News from Kiunga, Oswald said, they do not have that kind of money.

Earlier the relatives were asked to pay for post mortem costs on their loved ones bodies. This amounted to K27, 000. However, this fee was later picked up by Sunbird Aviation and the post mortem was concluded on Wednesday.

Now the families are faced with repatriating bodies, another costly exercise, and while they are told Sunbird will be footing this bill, they are not certain because the company has not been in contact with them.

Accidents Investigation Commission Director, David Inau, who is leading investigations into this crash and has experience in commercial plane crashes, said almost all the cost in this crash will be borne by Sunbird Aviation.

The relatives are worried because the longer the bodies are kept in Kiunga and their conditions deteriorate, the harder it will be to transport the bodies to their resting places.

The say the village, is another four hours walk from the airstrip.

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