13 February 2013

Liberia: Guinean General, Others Flown Home

The charred bodies of 11 Guineans, including army Chief of Defense Staff, General Souleyman Kelefa Diallo, who died in Monday's February 11, 2013 plane crash in Charlesville near the Roberts International Airport in Margibi County, have been flown home under full escort by Liberian Government authorities headed by Defense Minister J. Brownie Samukai, Jr.

The corpses were flown to Conakry early Tuesday morning by the Guinean Ambassador to Liberia, who is also Doyen of the Diplomatic Corps here.

The late General Souleyman Kelefa Diallo was leading a high level Guinean military delegation to Monrovia to attend the official celebration of the 56th Armed Forces Day of Liberia when the official 3XGGG-Cassa 235 aircraft conveying them developed technical problems in midair after it lost contact with the Air Control Tower at the Roberts International Airport and crash landed in Charlesville, bust in flame, killing all 11 occupants, including crew members.

Other Guinean military personnel in the crash were Maha Diallo, Presse Militaire; Diallo Mamodou Conde, Interpreter; Pilot Col. Mamadou Celou Dalin Diallo, Soriba Diawara and Mohamed Koumbassa.

As a mark of solidarity in the lost of the Guinean delegation, particularly Gen. Souleyman Kelefa Diallo, who was member of the ECOWAS Chiefs of Defense Staff, President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf declared Tuesday, February 12, 2013 a National Holiday to mourn the tragic incident.

Liberia's Assistant Defense Minister for Public Affairs David Dahn, who was part of the official government delegation to Guinea, told the NewDawn Liberia via mobile phone on Tuesday from Conakry that they were received upon arrival by the First Lady of Guinea.

Assistant Minister Dahn said the reception in Conakry was characterized by military performance and profiling of the late Chief of Staff General Souleyman Kelefa Diallo, who was appointed to the post after the ascendency of Professor Alpha Conde.

The Liberia Civil Aviation Authority detailed that the pilot of the 3XGGG-Cassa 235 aircraft that was bringing the Guinean delegation to Monrovia was given clearance to land within a 4 nautical miles AT runway 04, at the Roberts International Airport.

The LCAA said the fuel endurance of the aircraft was estimated at 500hrs, while the wind was reported calm as the air pressure recorded at 1010 hectopascals.

According to the LCAA, at exactly 0710 hrs, the control tower of the airport noticed black smoke at runway 04 and immediately attempted contacting the aircraft but it proved negative.

A LCAA statement released here disclosed that at 0712hrs, the control tower declared full emergency, sending its rescue fire service into standby position.

The Managing Director of the Liberia Civil Aviation Authority, Dr. Richelieu Williams said as a normal procedure, the appropriate authorities were briefed, including the Acting Manager of Air Traffic Management Department, Acting Senior Air Traffic Controller and Area Control, respectively.

He noted that Rapid Intervention Vehicle #2 (RIV-2) and rescue 4 were immediately instructed at 0714 to proceed to runway 04.

Speaking to journalists at the Roberts International Airport on Monday, Dr Williams said the Fire Fight Services Apparatus reported no smoke in sight and was instructed to proceed to Charlesville.

The LCAA Boss further detailed that the Roberts Control approached at 0727hrs and broke the news that the aircraft had crashed in Charlesville, and that UNMIL/MOVCON personnel R6 requested access at 0735 to enable UNMIL Aviation Unit Rescue Chopper to the site.

He noted that at 0744, rapid intervention vehicle informed the control tower that they were at the crash scene and saw a blaze, bellowing in the sky as they made effort to put the fire under control.

"There was no sign of any survival reported by the rescue team", he added.

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