6 March 2013

Namibia: Two Dead in Damaraland Plane Crash

A LIGHT aircraft reported missing in the Sesriem area on Sunday was found in mountainous terrain north of Purros in the Kunene Region yesterday morning.

Both people on board, Namibian pilot Mike Berry and internationally acclaimed South African filmmaker and photographer Richard Mathews, both died in the crash.

Gideon Hambo, assistant manager at Fort Sesfontein where Berry and Mathews stayed, yesterday said a local resident of Purros spotted smoke in the area and went to investigate.

Hambo said it appeared that the oil in the aircraft overheated and blew up.

The chief of the Directorate of Aircraft Accident Investigations in the Ministry of Works and Transport, Ericksson Nengola, confirmed the crash and said his directorate would start its official investigation once the police had removed the bodies.

"We are still not sure what caused the accident but the aircraft was completely burnt out," said Nengola.

He said the aircraft was a Jaburoo TC 400.

Kunene police commander Mandume Shifonono said officers who went to the scene of the accident had not returned by yesterday afternoon, and he could not shed more light on the accident.

It is believed that Berry and Mathews had gone to the Sesfontein area to photograph dry riverbeds.

Mathews is an internationally renowned wildlife filmmaker. He worked for the BBC's National History Unit for six years.

After that he did freelance work, filming the film 'Queen of the Beasts' chronicling infanticide in lions. His UK production company pioneered the 'Night of Nightmare' series on dangerous and deadly animals. He moved back to South Africa in 2004 after which he specialised in aerial photography.

Mathews' films have won five Emmys and one British Academy of Film and Television (Bafta) award.

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