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Weather hampers search

Felix Chaudhary
Wednesday, February 28, 2018

THE search and rescue effort for the missing Pacific Flying School (PFS) Cessna 172 aircraft has been hampered by extremely challenging weather and dense terrain.

PFS managing director and owner Tim Joyce, who is participating in the search for the plane and two airmen, instructor Iliesa Tawalo and trainee Merelesita Lutu, said the search was being conducted "under very difficult weather and ground conditions".

"The Cessna was tracked using ADS-B (Automatic Dependent Surveillance — Broadcast) but unfortunately the area where it disappeared is in high ground and in cloud and extremely turbulent," he said.

"There were extremely strong wind and turbulence, so we've been searching for it all morning (yesterday) and trying to get as close as we can and we've got parties on the ground in there.

"We're on the ground in Labasa at the moment (yesterday) waiting for it to clear so that we can go back again.

"We don't really know where the aircraft is exactly but have a rough idea of the area it could have disappeared into. There is a road to the top of the mountain and I've been up there, but the foliage is so thick it could be close to the road but you wouldn't be able to see it."

He added the extremely challenging weather had also been a deterrent to aircraft involved in the search.

About 30 RFMF and police officers along with villagers familiar with the Korotari area are part of the search party.

While they continued to comb the ground, the aerial search had to be called off at times because of low cloud cover and turbulence.

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