Fiji Time: 12:01 PM on Tuesday 20 March

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Francis: It was not easy

Luke Rawalai
Tuesday, March 06, 2018

THEIR bravery was applauded last week as their pictures surfaced in the media slinging on the cliff in Delaikoro attempting to recover the bodies of the Cessna 172 aircraft crash victims.

In the first picture they were merely blue dots scaling the cliff trying to reach the wreckage of the aircraft.

Thirty-three-year-old firefighter Norman Francis says hanging from ropes while recovering the two victims was not an easy work especially when suspended 200 metres in midair.

The father of one said the training they did as part of their urban search and rescue training paid off giving them confidence to work from such heights.

"Like any other human there were moments during our work when we had to think twice, but it also initiated within us the need to be sharp and wise about the decisions we made because any wrong turn would mean disaster," he said.

"It takes confidence, concentration, teamwork and a lot of support and assistance from those at the scene.

"Our priority then was to retrieve the bodies of the two from the wreck and it meant going down to the wreck and working carefully not to disturb the tree on which the wreck was because doing so would affect the crash scene which was yet to be examined by the forensics team.

"If the tree broke from the weight of the plane or as a result of our work it would fall another few hundred metres and land on rocks wiping out every evidence on the plane."

Mr Francis said at every point of their descent he prayed for their lives asking God for His protection.

"There were two of us who carried the bodies out of the wreck and even at its decomposed state we had to ensure that they were safely carried to the prepared area before they were transported to the mortuary.

"It is no easy work carrying dead weight while suspended in mid-air but with passion and teamwork everything is easy."

Mr Francis' wife Karolina said she went weak in the knees when she saw pictures of her husband and his team at the cliff's edge.

"I was worried but I knew Norman and his team knew what they were doing," she said.

"Being married to heroes sometimes demands a lot of understanding and faith."

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