PNG crash victims farewelled

Residents of Papua New Guinea's remote Misima Island today farewelled the four victims of Tuesday's plane crash who included a New Zealander and three Australians.

The bodies were flown from the island to the capital Port Moresby to await transfer to Brisbane where autopsies will be carried out.

The Kiwi victim, whose name has not been released at the request of his family, is then expected to be flown home. It is understood that he had recently arrived in Port Moresby to take up an appointment with medivac company SOS International.

Government offices, businesses and schools were closed as the islanders turned out to farewell the men, PNG newspaper The National reported.

Schoolchildren formed a "guard of honour" stretching 500m from the morgue at the island's health centre to the airport, where a Airlines PNG Twin Otter was waiting to take the bodies to Port Moresby from where they were to be transferred to a Brisbane-bound commercial flight.

New Zealand co-pilot Kelby Cheyne, 25, formerly of Dunedin, was the sole survivor of the crash which happened as the plane slid off the runway as it came in to land -- erupting into flames after hitting a stand of trees.

Mr Cheyne, who managed to escape through the cockpit window, suffered bruising and was discharged from north Queensland's Townsville Hospital late yesterday.

PNG's Civil Aviation Accident Investigation Commission chief executive officer David Inau said five investigators had been assigned to establish the cause of the crash.

"I have formally invited the Australian transport safety bureau to assist with the investigations. I have already a team of three on site working with us," he said.

- NZPA

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