Kiwi dies as plane crashes into trees

By Alanah Eriksen, Alanah May Eriksen

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Misima Island. Photo / Supplied
Misima Island. Photo / Supplied

A New Zealander about to start a new job for an international medical company in Papua New Guinea was among four people killed in a fiery plane crash in a remote part of the country.

The only survivor, believed to be one of the pilots of the Trans Air charter company plane, was also a New Zealander.

He was thrown clear when the Cessna Citation slid off a wet runway, crashed into trees and burst into flames on Tuesday afternoon.

The crash happened on Misima Island, in Milne Bay Province on Papua New Guinea's southern tip.

The domestic charter flight for Australian Reef Pilots had been reported overdue from Port Moresby.

Among the dead is a New Zealand sales manager for Medevac company International SOS.

He had dual citizenship between New Zealand and another country but had been living in Sydney temporarily while a visa was organised for him to live and work in Papua New Guinea.

A spokesman for the company said it had contacted immediate family in New Zealand, and was trying last night to reach relatives around the world.

Regional managing director Michael Gardner said: "At this very difficult time we are shocked and deeply saddened, our thoughts are with our colleagues' family and friends, as well as with the families of those affected by the accident."

The survivor, who had heavy bruising but was conscious, was flown to Port Moresby yesterday afternoon

It is understood he was then flown to Australia for further treatment.

The other three men who died were Australian, and included Trans Air owner Les Wright, 56.

He was also the owner of defunct Australian company Transair, which operated a plane that crashed at Lockhart River, North Queensland, in 2005 killing 15 people.

Also killed on Tuesday was Australian Darren Moore, a flight operations inspector for Papua New Guinea's Civil Aviation Safety Authority, the Herald has been told.

The other victim was marine pilot Chris Hart, 61, from Sydney. He was working for the Brisbane company Australian Reef Pilots and was to guide a ship through the Great Barrier Reef.

It was not known last night who was flying the plane with the New Zealand pilot.

New Zealand's High Commissioner to Papua New Guinea, Marion Crawshaw, flew to Misima Island with Australian officials yesterday and was working to bring the dead New Zealander's body home.

- NZ Herald

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