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UK helping Montserrat in crash probe
The United Kingdom’s (UK) Air Accident Branch is assisting the Antigua and Barbuda Airport Authority and the Eastern Caribbean Civil Authority with investigations into the crash of the Britten-Norman Islander nine-seater aircraft operated by Montserrat’s national airline, Fly Montserrat.
Pilot Jason Forbes, Jamaican school teacher Annya Duncan and Guyanese national Sandrama Poligadu died in the accident on Sunday. Michael Hudson, the lone survivor, suffered bruises, lacerations and a broken ankle and remains warded in a stable condition at Mt St John Medical Centre, Montserrat.
That information was provided by Montserrat’s director of Information and Communications Nerissa Golden who gave the T&T Guardian an update in a telephone interview yesterday. Duncan, who taught at Montserrat Secondary School, died on her birthday. She turned 29 on October 7.
Officials of the UK’s Air Accident Branch arrived in Antigua on Monday to begin investigations she said. Golden said it was the first time an accident with fatalities happened in Antigua. CEO of Fly Montserrat Capt Nigel Harris, in a statement yesterday, reassured the public the airline operated at the highest standard of a UK-regulated airline.
The statement added: “Fly Montserrat operates to the very high standards of a UK-regulated airline and its regulator, ASSI, who regularly visits to audit the company’s operations, was made aware of the accident on Sunday evening.
“ASSI has been helpful in offering its support at this time and the company is operating its normal service. The airline takes its responsibilities in terms of maintenance of aircraft and training of its crew very seriously in order to maintain its Air Operator’s Certificate. It will continue to do so.”
Montserrat’s Deputy Premier, Charles Kirnon, in a statement sent to T&T Guardian, via email, expressed his condolences to the grieving relatives promising to provide counselling to them. He said: “The Government and people of Montserrat are deeply saddened by the incident. The Government will be looking at offering grief-counselling to the relatives of the victims of the plane crash. This incident has touched us all.”
Governor Adrian Davis also expressed his condolences. A candlelight vigil was held on Wednesday in Duncan’s memory. Although Fly Montserrat has resumed its service between Antigua, Montserrat and Nevis, the Government has increased its ferry service. Daily trips are now available to passengers who may be concerned about travelling by air. The nine-seat plane, heading from Antigua to Montserrat, crashed into the ground seconds after takeoff on Sunday.