7 Oct 2013

Three die in Northern Marianas plane crash

5:58 pm on 7 October 2013

A plane crash in the Northern Marianas that claimed the lives of three people is the Star Marianas airline's second fatal incident in the past year.

The flight took off from West Tinian airport on Sunday morning en route to Saipan, but crashed in the middle of the island.

Amelia Langford asked our correspondent in the CNMI, Mark Rabago, about the crash and the airline's past record.

MARK RABAGO: We have three fatalities, including the pilot and two Chinese nationals who were tourists - one is a 29 year old male and one is a 26 year old female. Four others are injured and are in stable, but critical condition at the Commonwealth Health Centre. Two are women, one male, and one three year old girl. The doctor says they have a strong possibility of surviving the crash and living, but they don't want to divulge the names, because the ones who died and the ones who survived, the names are still being with-held until the next of kin are informed.

AMELIA LANGFORD: What details do we have of the actual event?

MR: The plane left Tinian around 2:41 Sunday morning, and after an hour Star Marianas said the plane didn't have any idea where it was, so it had to call CPA- Commonwealth Ports Authority - and the ports authority contacted the homeland security and emergency management to report the missing plane. They found the plane at exactly 10:32am Sunday morning after a US navy helicopter found it crash-landed in a remote area of Tinian east of the Voice of America tower. It's a very inaccessible area and the helicopter man, the pilot, the US navy men who were there, had to rappel down and extricate the survivors.

AL: And, tell me, this is not the first time that this airline has been in trouble, is it?

MR: This is the second tragic ill-fated incident involving the area in less than a year. Last November another airplane of the airline crashed shortly after take-off at the Saipan International Airport. It resulted in the death of one Chinese tourist and injuries to six others. The results of the investigation have still not been made public.