THREE persons missing when a Cessna Grand Caravan crash-landed on a river at Kibeni in Gulf province on Monday afternoon have been confirmed dead.
Tropicair Ltd, which operated the flight, identified the three as Stanley Kovi, Joyce Kori and Adam Reid, whom The National understands was the Australian co-pilot.
The pilot and six other passengers survived with minor injuries.
They were rescued from the scene shortly after the crash which occurred at about 1.30pm.
Civil Aviation Minister Davis Steven said the Civil Aviation Safety Authority would carry out its own investigation separate from the PNG Accident Investigation Commission.
Tropicair chief executive officer Tony Honey said his staff were at the scene with the commission’s investigators.
“It is too early to draw any conclusions about the cause of the aircraft’s forced landing or to speculate about possible causes until all the facts are established by the investigation team,” he said in a press statement.
“Tropicair is cooperating fully with the PNG civil aviation authorities.”
Honey thanked the Oil Search search and rescue team which responded to distress calls from the single-engine aircraft shortly after it took off from Kamusie for Purari.
The company has suspended its commercial flight operations pending the investigation.
Sources said the pilot of the Cessna had hoped to make an emergency landing on a rural airstrip.
However, he aborted the idea as the airstrip had not been used for some time and instead crash-landed on a nearby river.
Rescuers were at the scene within minutes and took the survivors to an Oil Search camp at Kopi.
The survivors were flown to Port Moresby yesterday.