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Old 25th Mar 2006, 00:07
  #911 (permalink)  
Join Date: Aug 2003
Location: closer to hell
Age: 48
Posts: 904

Swiss pilot killed, 3 hurt, in PNG crash

A Swiss missionary pilot has been killed and three passengers injured in a light plane crash in Papua New Guinea's Southern Highlands.

The Missionary Aviation Fellowship (MAF) Cessna 206 aircraft went down near the town of Tari early on Thursday afternoon.

MAF general manager Mike Jeliffe said it was not known at this stage what caused the crash but officials from MAF Australia would come up to head an internal investigation.

The pilot had reported entering the circuit area around Tari airfield and operations appeared normal but the six-seater aircraft did not make it to the airstrip, he said.

The 42-year-old Swiss pilot, whose name was not released, had been in PNG with the Swiss Mission for 12 years and leaves a wife and four children who were in the country with him.

The three PNG national passengers, two of them seriously injured, were taken by helicopter to a hospital in the Western Province capital Mt Hagen.

They were expected to survive, Jeliffe said.

MAF staff were shocked by the crash after having lost two New Zealand pilots in the crash of a Twin Otter aircraft in the Star Mountains of western PNG in February last year, he said.

The airline has suspended flights of its 10 single-engined aircraft and four Twin Otters apart from flying in investigators.

Last year's crash killed Captains Chris Hansen, 37, and Richard West, 40, but the cabin attendant and eight passengers escaped with only minor injuries after the plane hit trees as the pilots tried to land at an airstrip.

MAF has operated in PNG for more than 50 years, flying people and supplies to the remotest airstrips in the country.

2006 AAP
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