Maputo — Mozambique Airlines (LAM) announced on Saturday that it has set up support centres in Maputo and Luanda airports to assist the relatives of the 33 passengers and crew who died when the scheduled LAM flight between the two cities crashed on Friday in northern Namibia.
LAM adds that it has informed the families of all the 16 Mozambicans who lost their lives, and has contacted the embassies of the foreigners who were on board (nine Angolans, five Portuguese, a Brazilian, a Chinese and a French citizen).
The LAM statement adds that the Namibian Civil Aviation Authority has confirmed the destruction of the plane and the deaths of all on board. A Namibian search team found the remains of the plane in the Bwabwata National Park in the Caprivi Strip, in the far north of the country.
LAM has sent a team to Namibia to assist with the investigations. So far no information is available on what caused the crash.
The statement urges that the investigators “should have the time and space necessary to carry out their work without any interference”.
The plane was the newest aircraft in the LAM fleet - a Brazilian Embraer-190, manufactured in 2012 and equipped with General Electric CFM34-10 engines. Since it entered service on 17 November 2012, the Embraer had clocked up 2,905 hours of flying time, and had made 1,877 landings.
As is always the case in such tragedies,a commission of inquiry is being set up to investigate the causes of the accident, formed by experts of the country that owned the plane, the country where the crash occurred and the country of manufacture (in this case, Mozambique, Namibia and Brazil).
Speaking at a press conference after an emergency meeting of the Cabinet, Transport Minister Gabriel Muthisse said the Mozambican team on this commission will be led by Antonio Chiche, a national director in the Ministry.
Under the regulations of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) the commission of inquiry should present a preliminary report within 30 days.
Muthisse stressed that the crash has nothing to do with the ban on Mozambican air companies flying in European air space. The EU ban was not a comment on LAM (which up until now has had an excellent safety record), or any other air company, but on alleged inadequacies in the Mozambican regulatory body, the Mozambican Civil Aviation Institute (IACM).
Muthisse said that work is under way to improve the performance of the IACM, so that it performs its duties with the greatest of rigour.
“Our work with the European Union and other partners is not intended to improve the safety of the aircraft but to improve the work of our regulator, which is a new institution that needs to be developed and continually strengthened”, he added.
He pointed out that countries much more developed than Mozambique have suffered similar tragedies “but this in no way means that the aircraft of those countries are not fit to transport people or cargo”.
Muthisse said that the government intends to decree a period of national mourning “as soon as the objective conditions are established”.