Search and rescue teams turned up empty handed yesterday following a 20-mile radius search for the
missing Air Services Limited (ASL) aircraft that went down in the Mahdia, Region Eight area, two days ago. Working with fairly good weather, rescue teams kept up search efforts until nightfall for the missing Britten Norman Islander aircraft 8R-GHE carrying pilot, 27-year-old Captain Nicky Persaud, and 51-year-old cargo loader, David Bisnauth.
The aircraft which was on a resupply mission to gold mines in the country’s interior went down just after noon on Sunday, a few minutes after taking off from Mahdia to Karisparu in the Potaro-Siparuni Region.
The Guyana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) reported last evening that search and rescue teams triangulated a search area approximately 20 miles west and south of Mahdia.
“The expanse of dense jungle is within the area of interest as determined by map terrain information and aircraft sighting while taking into consideration the last known position of the aircraft,” the aviation body related.
The mountainous area – up to 700 meters high- including Echerak and North Fork, was overflown in search of Bisnauth and Captain Persaud who is said to have 8,000 flying hours and vast experience operating in this area.
“The twin-engine aircraft’s last known position via “Spot Tracker” was 3.8 nautical miles south of Mahdia – a mere two minutes after it departed Mahdia airstrip. The aircraft was expected to reach Karisparu at midday.”
At the time Persaud lost contact with operators, it was stated that weather conditions en route to Karisparu, was reported as ‘bad.’ The second day of the search yielded no sightings of the aircraft,” GCAA said.
Eleven hours and 24 minutes were accumulated by search aircraft yesterday; bringing the total search hours flown to 18 hours and four minutes.
At 16:20hours on Sunday, Timehri Air Traffic Control was said to have made contact with the aircraft operator to establish whether it had landed at its destination. When no information was received, the search and rescue operation was implemented.
Six aircraft were said to have been deployed in the search and rescue mission on Sunday, including military helicopters and those of the ASL Company.
In yesterday’s search, two fixed wing and three rotor wing aircraft including one Guyana Defence Force (GDF) helicopter were involved. “GCAA investigators and GDF Special Forces remain on standby in Mahdia for possible extraction. Medical personnel are also on standby at Mahdia District Hospital and the Georgetown Public Hospital (GPH).”
The rescue organisers say that all aspects of the operation are being coordinated from the Rescue Coordination Centre at the Timehri Control Tower. “Present are officials from the Ministry of Public Works; Ministry of Health; GCAA; Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA); GDF Air Corps, Air Services Ltd and the Guyana Police Force.”
The GCAA Director General told Kaieteur News yesterday that the ASL aircraft was indeed fitted with a locator. It was stated that some signal was received on Sunday but currently nothing is being heard. It was mentioned further that certain restrictions could be impeding the signal of the locator and preventing a definite location for the missing craft.
The search and rescue mission commenced at 06:30hours yesterday at the Timehri Control Tower. An aerial search is being conducted at the identified areas.
The missing pilot’s sister-in-law Amrita Persaud told Kaieteur News yesterday that the pilot’s father had travelled to Mahdia following the disappearance of his son. She said information out of Mahdia is that a 10-mile area will be searched today.
Other relatives were said to have spent most of their day at the ASL office awaiting any word, and will return there today.
The publication was informed however, that rescuers will be searching a certain area after miners, related hearing a noise that could possibly be that of a downing plane. The information was reportedly received late in the afternoon and searches could not have been conducted at the time. This area is expected to be searched today.
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