Indonesian man’s body recovered from Air Niugini plane in Chuuk

Boaters on Weno island in Chuuk, in the Federated States of Micronesia respond to the crash of Air Niugini Flight 73 earlier this morning in Chuuk. All 46 people aboard are safe, said airport Manager Jimmy Emilio. Picture: Courtesy of Bill Davis through PACNEWS

CHUUK/PORT MORESBY, 02 OCTOBER 2018 (POST COURIER) – The missing passenger in last Friday’s Air Niugini crash in Chuuk, FSM, has been found dead.

Air Niugini in a statement late last night confirmed that the body of a male passenger was discovered by divers yesterday as they conducted a further search of the P2-PXE and the surrounding area in the Chuuk Lagoon.

Air Niugini Chief Executive Officer Tahawar Durrani in a statement said: “This is the unaccounted passenger from the aircraft. Our outreach team is in touch with the man’s family and we are making arrangements to repatriate his body. The circumstances surrounding this accident are now a matter for relevant authorities as they begin their task of investigating the events that led to the incident and the actions which followed. We are committing all required resources to ascertain the factors that led to this accident,” he said.

“We express our deepest sympathy to his family. We are and will continue to provide support to his family in this time of loss.

Local Chuukese video blogger Matthew Colson reported last night that the Federated States of Micronesia police Monday confirmed that the man had died.

Colson, said to be an American Baptist pastor, who is fluent in the Chuuk local language, has been credited with reporting live from the crash scene.

He said the FSM police had confirmed the details with him. He reported that body of the man was recovered from the sunken plane. It was believed the man was trapped somewhere in the back section of the plane and he was reportedly still alive when the evacuation took place.

US Navy divers posted a video showing some of their personnel entering the plane after the crash but it seemed they did not venture into the aft section of the Boeing 737 800 jetliner.

Air Niugini initially released a statement saying all 47 passengers and crew were rescued after the crash by local Chuuk boats and the US Navy divers.

However, a headcount showed one person still missing and a picture of the man was posted online and in Chuuk for local assistance to locate him.

With the reported unfortunate loss of the Indonesian national, this figure will now be revised.

The Air Niugini flight from Pohnpei to Chuuk’s Weno airport ended just short of the runway. Experienced Air Niugini pilot Eddie Niggea was at the flight controls when the plane landed just short of the runway.

Air Niugini’s website which was set up in response to the accident and contained official company statements was suddenly off the internet Monday.

Even more intriguing was that a few hours after Colson’s post, his video report was also taken off the internet…

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