5 Feb 2007

Fiji denied assistance with plane crash investigation

5:18 am on 5 February 2007

New Zealand and Australia have refused a request from Fiji for technical help in the investigation of an air crash last week.

The Cessna 172 plane crashed in rugged mountains near Lautoka on Thursday afternoon killing its local pilot and two Canadian tourists who were on a sightseeing trip.

The Sunday Times says the chief executive of the Civil Aviation Authority of Fiji, Netava Waqa, has confirmed New Zealand and Australia have refused to help in determining the cause of the crash.

Mr Netava says his counterparts in New Zealand and Australia have verbally informed him of their refusal.

He says it seems this has something to do with the military takeover but they have not given a straight answer.

Mr Netava says despite the attitude of New Zealand and Australia, they are in the process of appointing a lead investigator to carry out the investigation.

Both countries have traditionally helped in such cases, with New Zealand managing Nadi International Airport during colonial days.