By: Zena Henry
A pregnant woman and the pilot of a single engine Cessna 206 small aircraft are among four persons who narrowly escaped death yesterday following a mid-morning plane crash at the Ogle International Airport.
Those on board the passenger/cargo carrier arrived at various city hospitals and were treated for minor injuries before being sent away, while it is understood, that at least one person is still hospitalized.
The Fenix Airways Inc. interior aircraft; registration 8RMML which was destined for Kato in Region Eight is said to have encountered difficulty during takeoff, before veering off the airstrip and crashing upside down a few yards away from the runway within airport boundaries.
Ogle Airport Inc (OAI) spokesperson, Kit Nascimento told reporters during a press briefing at the facility yesterday that the aircraft went down, according to the airport’s tower, sometime around 09:30 hours. He said according to an eyewitness account, “the aircraft was in the process of taking off, began lift off, came back down to the ground and ran off to the left side of the runway some two to three hundred yards away before coming to a stop upside down.”
Apart from the male pilot, who was later identified as Raul Seecharran, there was one other male passenger and two females who were identified as five-month pregnant, 23-year-old Shemika Monroe of Cane Grove, East Coast Demerara and Zoreena Ali.
The pregnant woman is said to be in stable condition at the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC) where she will be kept overnight for observation, after complaining about a “slight” back pain. While at the (GPHC), Monroe told Kaieteur News, that she was heading to Mahdia when the incident occurred.
A medical practitioner told this newspaper that, “Given the fact that a baby is involved we have to admit her (Monroe) for further observation. Had it not been for that baby, she would have been treated and sent away, he disclosed”
When Kaieteur News caught up with Ali at the Balwant Singh Hospital, she said, “I don’t know what happen. I was dizzy. I just know that the plane took off and it try to go up in the air and then it came down back.”
Fenix Airways Inc. Administrator and Finance Manager, Eddie Doolall, who was also present at the press briefing, said that while the injured (pregnant) female will remain in hospital, the other passengers were expected to be discharged from their respective hospitals before the end of yesterday.
In an official statement Deolall confirmed that three persons, including the pilot, were on board. He said two passengers were treated at Balwant Singh Hospital and were sent away, but the pilot is expected to be discharged today.
Deolall said that, “the company sympathizes with all the affected persons, especially the passengers and expressed sincere gratitude to Ogle Airport personnel for their assistance.”
Fenix’s air traffic was however delayed for the remainder of yesterday, as staffers were dispatched to the respective hospitals to ensure that the injured passengers were comfortable and receiving the necessary attention, Deolall explained. He said that Fenix flights are expected to be up and running today.
Nascimento injected also that when the aircraft went down, airport staffers, emergency and otherwise, were quick to respond. Within minutes, the fire brigade and other safety personnel were able to reach the injured passengers. He added that, “coincidentally, there was an ambulance on site which took the injured (pregnant) female to the hospital, while the other passengers were able to walk away from the crash and make their own way to medical institutions.”
Nascimento did say that the morning’s incident interrupted air traffic for about an hour, since outgoing flights were delayed, while incoming flights went uninterrupted.
Kaieteur News was unable to ascertain the cause of yesterday’s mishap as investigators noted that it would be too soon to ascertain that information. Police ranks and members of the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority were seen conducting their probe after cordoning off the crash site.
Head of the Aviation Authority, Zulfikar Mohamed told Kaieteur News that investigations are ongoing and highlighted also that it is too early to state what gave rise to the incident.
He told Kaieteur News that the aircraft has been removed from the crash site and was taken back to the GUYSCO hangar where it is based. Mohamed stated further that it is too soon to say when the investigations will conclude. He did say however that many theories are arising as to the cause of the crash, but nothing is confirmed until the end of the agency’s probe.
One staff attached to the Ogle Airport told Kaieteur News that he was in the airport’s terminal when he came to the runway’s side gate to view a gunshot victim coming out from Port Kaituma. The man said while he sought a glimpse of the gunshot victim, he noticed the Cessa 206 trying to take off, “but it appeared as if it was encountering some difficulty. It then bounced off the runway, did that about two more times before heading into the grass and crashing close to the fence.”
Soon after, the eyewitness said, airport workers raced over to the runway to render assistance. The ambulance that came for the gunshot victim also raced to the crash site and sped away with the female.
On the ground, there were talks of the plane being overloaded, culminating with the plane experiencing difficulty during takeoff. Investigators have mentioned that this is one possible theory, but reiterated that, “at this stage it is too early to say; and it is never good to speculate.”
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