26 August 2007

Zimbabwe: Pilot Killed as Helicopter Crashes Into Zambezi River

Harare — A Lone pilot was killed last Thursday after the private helicopter he was flying crashed into the Zambezi River.

The cause of the crash was by yesterday still not known and investigations are still in progress.

Police spokesperson Superintendent Andrew Phiri yesterday said Fin O'Donoghue was flying the helicopter along the Zambezi River when the accident occurred at around 4pm. "As he was navigating along the Zambezi River, it (the helicopter) crashed into the river, killing him," he said.

Officials from the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe in Kariba and the police attended the scene. O'Donoghue's body was taken to the Harare Central Hospital mortuary.

Supt Phiri said the owner of the helicopter resides in Borrowdale, Harare, while O'Donoghue was also from the capital. "Investigations to ascertain the cause of the accident are still in progress," he said.

This is the latest among several air crashes or crash-landings that have occurred in the country over the past decade. In April 2005, an Air Force of Zimbabwe helicopter crashed moments after taking off in the Gokwe-Chiriga area where it had been called to provide logistical support following difficulties in accessing the area during parliamentary elections.

Four passengers and two crewmen escaped unhurt but two people on the ground sustained minor injuries when the Allouette 111 helicopter crash-landed. In April 1998, an AFZ Allouette 111 helicopter crashed at a school in Seke, a few minutes after taking off on its return leg to Manyame Airbase, injuring all three officers on board.

Five people died in a plane crash at Victoria Falls during a joy flight in July 1997. The single Cessna 185 seaplane, belonging to Seaplane Safaris, nose-dived into the Zambezi River, killing all on board. Five American tourists were treated for minor injuries and discharged when a light aircraft they were flying in from Victoria Falls made a crash-landing on an island at Lake Kariba.

The Cessna 206, belonging to Southern Cross Aviation, had its nose extensively damaged when pilot John Christian (40) brought the plane down for a forced landing at Redcliff Island.

The plane was reported to have developed a mechanical fault as it prepared to land at Kariba Airport.

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