Aircraft crash-lands south of Durban

The plane that crashed in Merebank—south of Durban on Thursday—declared an emergency shortly after take-off, carrier Airlink said.

“The aircraft, a [29-seater] Jetstream 41, departed from Durban International Airport and shortly after take-off declared an emergency, crew reported engine loss and smoke from the rear of the aircraft,” said a statement posted on their website.

“The aircraft ditched approx[imately] 400m off the airport in the fields of the Merebank High School on the Bluff and broke into three pieces on impact.”

The crash occurred shortly after take-off at about 8am while the aircraft was en route to Pietermaritzburg.

The two pilots sustained critical injuries but were stable. A flight attendant was seriously injured but was also reported to be in a stable condition.

The captain was airlifted to St Augustine hospital at 11am and the crew members were taken to nearby hospitals.

A person on the ground was slightly injured and was treated at the scene and admitted to hospital for observation.

There were no passengers on board.

KwaZulu-Natal’s transport minister Willies Mchunu called on aviation authorities to probe the case of the crash.

“We can least afford to have passenger airlines jeopardising the lives of our people. Due to the risk associated with air travel, its safety must be beyond reproach,” a statement from his office said.

Earlier, Transport Minister Sibusiso Ndebele wished the injured a speedy recovery.

“We want to wish those injured in the plane crash in Merebank this morning a speedy recovery,” said Ndebele.

“We acknowledge that this is a difficult time for those injured and their families and our thoughts and prayers are with them,” his statement continued.

Civil Aviation Authority investigators were sent to the scene on Thursday to determine the probable cause of the crash.

A resident in the area, Abel Pillay, told the South African Press Association that he had seen the plane flying very low.

“You could see that the pilot was trying to land in the school ground,” he said.

Pillay said there were three people cleaning the street and that one was hit by the plane and fell, but survived.

The plane also narrowly missed crashing into houses. - Sapa

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