Dutch experts to help identify victims of Suriname plane crash
The plane which crashed in a remote jungle in Suriname killed all 19 abroad.4 April 2008
PARAMARIBO - Experts from The Netherlands were to arrive on Friday in Suriname to help identify victims of a plane crash in a remote jungle that killed all 19 aboard, officials said.
The twin-engine Antonov-AN28, operated by Surinamese carrier Blue Wing airlines, crashed Thursday on approach to an airstrip in the Benzdorp mining region, near the country's border with French Guiana.
Relatives of the victims, many of whom burned when the aircraft apparently exploded, clustered in an air hangar in the capital of Paramaribo, some silent and others weeping. About 200 people assembled nearby and sang the country's national anthem in a collective show of mourning.
"I was in a store when I heard the news on the radio," said Wendy Lugard, who lost her 35-year-old brother, Lennerd. "I was shocked, but little did I know how personal this tragedy would become for me. At this moment I cannot even grasp the reality of this."
All passengers and crew were believed to be Surinamese, said an official with the country's aviation authority, though their nationalities had not been confirmed by Thursday evening.
President Ronald Venetiaan said more should be done to increase the safety of the country's numerous interior airstrips. He did not elaborate or take questions from reporters.
"We have launched an investigation into this tragic event and hope we can learn from the conclusions that will be drawn," said John Veira, aviation authority director. The cause of the crash was not given.
Suriname Vice President Ramdien Sardjoe said experts from The Netherlands were expected to arrive Friday to identify the victims.
Arie Verkuyl, a member of Blue Wing's board of directors, told The Associated Press his daughter was the pilot. The crash occurred in light rain just after she had aborted a previous landing attempt and was coming around to try again, he said.
Blue Wing, which has operated since 2002, was barred from landing at European airports in June 2006 after French aviation officials found safety deficiencies during an inspection of planes. The airline was removed from the blacklist in 2007 after a commission said the company had resolved the issues.
[AP / Expatica]