23 Dec 2008

Vanuatu's Civil Aviation Authority seeks more help from NZ and Australia

11:43 am on 23 December 2008

Vanuatu's Civil Aviation Authority says that a request will be made to New Zealand and Australia to assist with their inquiry into a plane crash.

Authority Director Joseph Kasten says that the search and rescue of nine passengers over the weekend is now complete, with just one fatality being the pilot.

Seven passengers were rescued on Saturday, with another air lifted to a Brisbane hospital, and the ninth missing passenger was found on Sunday and flown to Luganvile hospital on Monday.

Recovering the wreckage of the Britten Norman Islander aircraft is difficult, he says, as it crashed into the hillside in remote dense bush on Espiritu Santo.

Joseph Kasten says they need outside help to determine the cause of the crash and recover the wreckage.

"We have been fortunate enough to have received some assistance from the French Army in New Caledonia thru the French Embassy for which we are very thankful. They've played a big part also in the search and rescue, as well as in the uplifting of people there as well as transporting people to and from the crash site. We are having a meeting to seek assistance from the Australia or New Zealand governments for them to send a team of investigators to investigate this crash."

Joseph Kasten says its understood that conditions were cloudy at the time of the crash.