Mozambique: National Mourning for Victims of Air Crash

Photo: Embraer
A Mozambique Airlines aircraft of the type that crashed (file photo).

Maputo — The Mozambican government has announced a three day period of national mourning for the 33 people who died when an Embraer-190 aircraft of Mozambique Airlines (LAM) crashed in northern Namibia on 29 November.

The Brazilian manufactured plane was on a scheduled flight from Maputo to Luanda carrying 27 passengers and six crew members. All lost their lives when the plane plummeted to the ground in Bwabwata national park in Namibia.

A government statement issued on Tuesday said that the period of mourning will run from Sunday to next Tuesday. During this period the Mozambican flag will be flown at half mast throughout the country, and at Mozambican diplomatic missions abroad. On Tuesday a religious ceremony in hour of the victims will be held at the Maxaquene Sports stadium in Maputo.

It has proved impossible to bring the bodies of the victims back to Maputo for the period of mourning. Delicate work of identifying the bodies is still underway. In the crash the bodies were burnt and dismembered. Reports from Namibia indicate that only one of the bodies was recovered in one piece.

Meanwhile the Mozambican authorities, and the commission investigating the crash, are still waiting for the Embraer's “black box” flight recorders to be opened and read.

The boxes were sent to the United States National Transport Safety Board (NTSB), but this body has not yet read and interpreted the data they contain.

According to Joao de Abreu, the chairperson of the regulatory body, the Mozambique Civil Aviation Institute (IACM), the boxes from the Embraer are in a queue.

“These aren't the only boxes to be read”, he told reporters. “There are various black boxes and we are on the list awaiting our turn. I am convinced that this week or early next week the investigation commission will have the results”.

As for reports that the Namibian authorities have discovered only 31 bodies of the 33 people known to be on board, Abreu insisted that all the remains anywhere near the crash site have been located and brought to Windhoek.

“So that there would be no doubts, the perimeter of the investigation was expanded”, he said, going beyond the immediate area where the plane wreckage was found. “I can state with certainly that all the bodies that were at the site of the accident have been found. Whether there are 31, 32 or 33 of them, I would not like to speculate”.

Abreu confirmed that the recordings of the relevant control towers showed that the Embraer communicated its entry into South African and then Botswanan air space. But the plane did not confirm that it was leaving Botswanan airspace.

This may suggest that whatever went wrong with the Embraer happened over Botswana.

Abreu said it could indicate communication problems such as radio failure.

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A Mozambique Airlines aircraft of the type that crashed (file photo).

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