14 Oct 2011

NZ pilot reported to have survived plane crash

7:48 pm on 14 October 2011

A New Zealand pilot is thought to be among four survivors of a plane crash in Papua New Guinea.

The Airlines PNG Dash-8 aircraft with 32 people on board crashed during a violent storm about 20 kilometres south of Madang, at about 5pm on Thursday.

Among four survivors are believed to be two pilots, from New Zealand and Australia.

A Madang hospital spokesperson says one Chinese national has been admitted in a moderate condition and three others were to be brought in by helicopter.

The Airlines PNG Dash-8 aircraft had been on a scheduled flight, and it's reported that most of the passengers were parents travelling to Madang for a university graduation ceremony.

The New Zealand High Commission in PNG is trying to confirm the nationalities of those on board.

Airlines PNG said there were 28 passengers and four crew members on the plane.

The airline has grounded its fleet of 12 aircraft until further notice.

Papua New Guinea's Accident Investigation Commission has begun an inquiry. Chief executive David Inau says the stormy weather conditions at the time of the crash are a factor investigators will look at.