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Authorities recover bodies from aircraft crash

February 28, 2018 8:00 am

Authorities have found the bodies of flight Instructor– Iliesa Tawalo and trainee Merelesita Lutu, who were on board the Cessna 172 training aircraft, which crashed on Monday.

Police has confirmed that rescue workers found the bodies this afternoon.

The joint search team consisting of officers from the Fiji Police Force and the Republic of Fiji Military Force’s reached the site of the plane crash and made the discovery of the two victims.

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Acting Deputy Commissioner of Police, Rusiate Tudravu, says the efforts currently being coordinated through the search and rescue command centre will now focus on securing the crash site for the arrival of the appointed New Zealand-based Air Accident Investigator.

The Director CID will be overseeing this first phase of investigations and forensics and Force pathologist will be deployed to the site.

The news of the discovery has been relayed to the family of the victims as the focus shifts to the investigation into the circumstances leading up to the tragic incident.

Earlier today, after close to 48 hours, the wreckage of the training aircraft, was found in the Deilaikoro Mountains in Labasa.

The aircraft lost communication with the Airports Fiji Tower at 12.30pm on Monday.

On board the flight was Tawalo and Lutu as well as Kalara Derederenalagi.

Derederenalagi was dropped off in Labasa before Tawalo and Lutu continued on their way to Savusavu to land.

However, due to the bad weather, they were unable to land in Savusavu and were returning to Labasa when it was reported they lost communication with the control tower.

The Pacific Flying School says they are unable to speculate on the cause of the accident but a full investigation will be carried out and details will be released at the appropriate time.

The school says recovery operations have commenced and will continue tomorrow morning.

A delegation from PFS has visited family members of the two pilots who were on board the aircraft, to convey their deepest sympathies and offer support.

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