Police on Saturday found the burned wreckage of a Mozambican Airlines plane the day after it went missing in northeastern Namibia, saying none of the 33 people aboard had survived.
The crash in the remote, swampy terrain of Namibia’s Bwabwata National Park killed victims from several countries and is one of the worst accidents on record in Mozambique’s civil aviation history.
“My team on the ground have found the wreckage. No survivors. The plane is totally burned,” Willie Bampton, a regional police coordinator in Namibia’s Kavango region, told AFP.
The Mozambican government confirmed the crash and said it would declare a period of national mourning for the victims.
“The plane was transporting six crew members, and 27 passengers of whom 10 were Mozambican, nine Angolans, five Portuguese, one French, one Brazilian and one Chinese,” said Mozambican Transport and Communications Minister Gabriel Muthisse.
In Portugal, the foreign ministry said the Brazilian in fact had dual Portuguese-Brazilian nationality.
The plane, en route from Mozambique to Angola, went down in the deserted terrain of the Bwabwata park, where Namibia turns into a narrow strip of land sandwiched between Botswana and Angola.
Mozambican authorities confirmed it was a Brazil-manufactured Embraer 190 aircraft and said it was the newest plane in the airline’s fleet.
Embraer issued a statement confirming the crash and extending “its support to investigating authorities, in pursuit of the causes of the accident.”
It said a team of its technicians would go to the scene.
The European Union banned the airline, known in Portuguese as Linhas Aereas de Mocambique (LAM), and all air carriers certified in Mozambique from flying in its airspace in 2011, citing “significant safety deficiencies”.
The concern was about Mozambique’s civil aviation authority, rather than the track record of the various airlines.
The flight, MT 470, flight took off from Maputo at 0926 GMT Friday for the nearly four-hour flight to the Angolan capital Luanda. With 100 seats, it was two-thirds empty.
Last contact with air traffic controllers was made at 1130 GMT over north Namibia during heavy rainfall.
Namibian police sent a search team to the area after Botswanan officials alerted them of a plane crash.
“Botswana officials informed us that they saw smoke in the air and they thought the crash happened in their country, but when they came to the border they realised that it was in Namibia,” said the Namibian regional police coordinator.
The search for the plane was hampered both by the rough terrain and torrential rains pounding the area, he told AFP.
“There are no proper roads, you have to go through the bush slowly and it’s making our job difficult,” he said.
Deadliest since 1986 presidential jet crash
Villagers who had heard explosions helped point police in the right direction.
Before the wreckage was found, people close to those on board gathered at Maputo airport, many frustrated at what they said was the lack of information.
“They told us it was a forced landing. I know it’s a crash,” said Luis Paolo, a friend of a Portuguese businessmen on the flight.
Portuguese President Anibal Cavaco Silva published a condolence message to victims’ families.
The accident is the deadliest for Mozambique since a plane carrying then-president Samora Machel crashed in 1986 in South Africa en route home from an African leaders’ summit. That crash, which shocked the world, remains a mystery but speculation has lingered that it was linked to tensions with the then-apartheid regime in South Africa. The crash claimed at least 34 lives.
Mozambique said it would set up a commission of enquiry to work with Namibian authorities on Friday’s crash and expected to make its preliminary results public within 30 days.
The Bwabwata National Park, a 6,100-square-kilometre (2,355-square-mile) reserve, is a sparsely populated area covered by wetlands and dense forests.
Source : yahoo