31 Dec 2009

Six die in Papua New Guinea plane crash

2:45 pm on 31 December 2009

A Cessna aircraft crashed yesterday in Papua New Guinea killing all six passengers on board, while the pilot was severely injured.

Two of the dead were children.

Richard Leahy, who runs Kiunga Aviation, was flying the plane when an engine caught fire shortly before the accident in mountainous terrain in Morobe Province.

The pilot's son, Nicholas Leahy, says his 68-year-old father, who he describes as one of the most experienced pilots in PNG, is now fighting for his life in an Australian hospital, after being rescued.

"He's in the trauma ward of the Royal Brisbane Hospital. He's got third degree burns to forty seven per cent of his body. And he's got a fracture in his L12 spine. So he's going through treatment for the third degree burns."

The crash is the second worst air accident in PNG this year after 13 people died in August near the Kokoda Track.