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Airlink plane crashes on school ground

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By Hlengiwe Ndlovu - SWAZI OBSERVER-25-Sep-2009

AN airlink passenger plane crashed into a school’s playing ground yesterday in Pietermaritzburg near Durban international airport, seriously injuring three crew members and one person on the ground.

Luckily, there were no passengers on board, only crew when it crashed and broke into three pieces on impact, Airlink spokesperson Karin Murray said. “The aircraft ditched approx 400m off the Airport in the fields of the Merebank High School on the Bluff and broke into three pieces on impact. We have confirmation that there are no fatalities.

“The two pilots are both stable but critically injured. The Flight attendant is seriously injured but also stable. The Captain was airlifted to St. Augustine hospital at 11h00. “All crew members have been hospitalised in nearby hospitals. “We understand that a worker on the ground was slightly injured and was treated at the scene and admitted to hospital for surveillance. “Airlink staff are on the scene. Arrangements have been made for the immediate family of the injured crew to travel to Durban. Airlink will release further information as soon as it becomes available.”

Airlink planes also service Swaziland, but it could not be ascertained whether the crashed plane had previously serviced the Matsapha-Johannesburg route, or whether they are swapped sometimes to service the different routes. Airlink said the aircraft, a Jetstream 41, developed mechanical faults shortly after departure from the Durban International Airport.

The spokesperson said after take-off, crew declared an emergency and reported engine loss and smoke from the rear of the aircraft. Interestingly, Airlink Swaziland also uses Jetstream 41 planes for the Matsapha-Johannesburg route.

An official website states that the airline provides daily return scheduled flights between Matsapha and Johannesburg utilising Jetstream 41, Embraer 135 jet aircraft and BAe 146 aircraft

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