GEORGETOWN, Guyana (GINA) -- Briefing the media on Sunday, director of the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) Zulficar Mohamed, said progress has been made in attempts to get to a crashed Trans Guyana aircraft after it was sighted by a Guyana Defence Force (GDF) helicopter search party at approximately 12:35 pm.
He said that two GDF (Special Forces) ranks were inserted on the ground, approximately one mile away from the crash site.
“Depending on the terrain, which is said to be densely forested, the time span for the ranks reaching the crashed area will vary,” Mohamed said.
The GCAA director added that once the site is reached, the ranks’ first order is to rescue, once alive, the crew members.
“At this time we cannot tell you what is the status of the passengers until the GDF is there, and the first thing they need to do at the site is to extract the personnel and when that is finished the site will be secured for the GCAA persons to investigate… this security is necessary to ensure that the site and information is not contaminated and we have to have the first access,” Mohamed said.
A medical doctor will be amongst the personnel being flown into the crash site once a helipad (landing site) has been cleared by ranks on the ground, early on Monday.
Officials are cautiously optimistic that the aircraft’s occupants are alive, since although the wings appeared to have separated from the fuselage, which is stuck in several trees it doesn’t appear that there was any fire. The relatives of the two men will be kept up to date, as information is obtained, via officials of the Ministry of Public Works and Trans Guyana Airways.
Canadian-born pilot, Blake Slater and a cargo loader, Dwayne Newton, were the only occupants on the flight which had just taken off from Olive Creek, when it went down at about 10:50 am on Saturday. A search and rescue mission was then launched for the Trans Guyana Cessna Caravan 700 aircraft 8R-GHS.
After the Control Tower received a distress call indicating that the aircraft was going down, several calls were immediately made by other aircraft, but were all unsuccessful. The GCAA’s Rescue Coordination Center (RCC) was immediately activated and Special Forces from the GDF, and search and rescue units were dispatched. The search and rescue team included: six aircraft (two helicopters and four Cessna Caravans), nine Special Forces officers, and nine crew members. They were armed with survival kits and other vital equipment.
At around 6:00 pm on Saturday, the search was called off for the day due to poor lighting, but resumed at 6:30 am on Sunday. An aircraft was deployed to fly over the area of interest during the night to look for any signs of the missing aircraft. The aircraft was fitted with all of the appropriate emergency equipment including an Emergency Locator Beacon, 406 MHz. However, a check with the US Mission Control Centre (USMCC) from which information concerning aircraft ELT signals is transmitted, informed that no signal from the aircraft’s beacon was received.