Nov 12, 2008 News
-rescue team to intensify ground search
The rescue team involved in locating the Beech King Air aircraft which vanished over a week ago is to intensify its ground search over the next few days, even as time appears to be running out for the plane’s three-man crew.
Minister of Public Works and Transport, Robeson Benn, said yesterday that the team was “pushing the ground search over the next few days” in areas from where the signal from the plane’s Emergency Locator Transmitter (ELT) is believed to have been emanating.
The team is also focusing its search along the presumed flight lines that the aircraft would have taken during its surveying operation.
“We checked one area and were unsuccessful and we are now examining another area.”
But Minister Benn declined to say whether any decision is being made as to how long the search will continue if the crew is not found.
Prometheus Resources Guyana Inc. official Azad Khan told Kaieteur News that one of the aircraft involved in the search had picked up the signal as recently as Monday.
He said that the fact that the signal is being picked up might indicate that some of the crew may still be alive.
“I’m still hopeful. The body of opinion is that someone is switching the ELT on and off to conserve on the battery,” he said.
Khan estimated that the crew would have long run out of food, since they would only have taken supplies for the a few hours.
“They go out for quite a few hours. They would not have carried anything to last eight to ten days.”
According to Khan, the search has been narrowed to an area of some 25 square miles.
“We can cover this area in one week with ground forces. “We will continue for a long time until the plane is located.
He confirmed that the area that the search party will focus on is a section of the area that the aircraft was conducting its uranium survey work for Prometheus Resources Guyana Inc.
Khan told Kaieteur News that only three aircraft were used in the aerial search yesterday.
However, head of the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) Zulficar Mohamed denied reports that the army helicopter that was assisting in the search is down.
Kaieteur News has received reports that the helicopter has been experiencing mechanical problems.
Last week, a top aviation expert criticized the search and rescue operation that was launched by local authorities for the missing aircraft.
The expert stated that the search should have begun at least two hours after contact was lost with the pilot.
The aviation source described the Mazaruni area, where the plane is believed to have disappeared, as one of the most difficult terrains for pilots to navigate.
Asked to speculate about the possible fate of the crew and passengers, the source said that it is unlikely that the pilot could have lost his way, since the aircraft is equipped with sophisticated navigational equipment.
He suggested that both engines could have failed, or that the pilot could have entered the clouds and accidentally flown into a mountain, due to his inexperience in flying in Guyana.
Those aboard the plane are pilot James Barker, First Officer Chris Paris and Canadian technician Patrick Murphy.
Barker and Paris are American citizens.
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