FSM begins probe in plane crash
Air Niugini has confirmed that the body of a missing male passenger was discovered by U.S. Navy divers on Monday while inspecting the P2-PXE and the crash site’s surrounding area in the Chuuk Lagoon.
Tahawar Durrani, CEO of Air Niugini, said the body belonged to the unaccounted passenger from the aircraft. The airline has yet to disclose the identity of the passenger.
The FSM government said the deceased passenger’s “country of nationality” will be notified through its Foreign Affairs.
“Our outreach team is in touch with the man’s family and we are making arrangements to repatriate his body,” Durrani said. “We express our deepest sympathy to his family. We are and will continue to provide support to his family in this time of loss.”
According to a press release from FSM incident-in-charge, nine passengers were admitted to the Chuuk Hospital with four in critical condition needing immediate medical attention. Surviving passengers were transported safely to Port Moresby by a rescue flight from Chuuk.
Air Niugini’s Boeing 737-800 crashed Friday morning in a lagoon off Weno airport in Chuuk, where it was supposed to stop over on its way to Port Moresby.
Plans are underway for recover the black box from the submerged airplane. The FSM investigator in change said Papua New Guinea’s Aircraft Incident Commission has offered to assist FSM in downloading, decoding and analyzing the data from the black box once it is extracted from the airplane.
Prior to the discovery of the body, initial reports said all passengers were accounted for. The were discrepancies in the actual number of passengers onboard. Initial reports said there were 35 passengers. The number changed to 46 and the latest report from FSM government placed the number at 47.
“The circumstances surrounding this accident are now a matter for relevant authorities as they begin their task of investigating the events that led to the incident and the actions which followed,” Durrani said. “We are committing all required resources to ascertain the factors that led to this accident.”
The FSM incident-in-charge said the government is thoroughly investigating the incident with Assistant Secretary Master Halbert of the FSM TC&I in charge of the investigation. FSM Justice Department/National Police is securing the site and providing necessary assistance to the investigation.
“Request was made to the U.S. government for its assistance, and investigators arrived in Chuuk to join the investigation team. FSM and PNG are also working together on this investigation,” FSM incident in charge said.