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Mother, 40, proud to lead search

Luke Rawalai
Friday, March 02, 2018

TERESIA Latileta was the only woman who led the search team of 30 police and military officers through the thick forests of Dogoru on Tuesday, battling the rain and cold.

The 40-year-old mother of six had to wade through flooded creeks and rivers as she led the search for the missing Cessna 172 aircraft.

In a light moment and describing her involvement, she said she had no problem working with her male counterparts.

The Red Cross volunteer said trekking the forest terrain was not difficult.

"Through my work, I have learnt to view those of the opposite sex as equals and good company during times of emergencies and this is what made my work with the men more easier," Ms Latileta said.

"I was one of those who heard and saw the aircraft during its fateful flight on Monday afternoon this week and my information was essential in the location of the missing aircraft," she claimed.

"My cousin, who has a farm close to the Telecom Fiji Ltd transmitter site at Delaikoro peak had asked me to do some work at his farm and this was the reason I was up in the bushes at the time.

"At around 12pm, I saw the aircraft circle the farm twice and then five minutes later, I heard the sound of a loud crash that seemed to come from the cliff just below the farm."

Ms Latileta said even though it was raining heavily, she knew that something had gone wrong with the plane she had just seen from her farm.

"Therefore, I made it my aim to see the wreck of the plane and to ensure that the two victims of the crash were located," she said.

"I had to cross two wide rivers, but I pursued on because I felt it was my duty to locate the missing aircraft since I believe that I was one of the last to witness its last flight."

Ms Latileta said the joint effort of the villagers helped in the location of the aircraft.

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