Plane crash kills 12 in Papua New Guinea

Light plane crash leaves 12 people dead in Papua New Guinea, Australian authorities say

Photo by: AFP (Archive)
Photo by: AFP (Archive)

File photo shows locals gathering at the crash site of an Airlines PNG Dash 8 plane near Madang in Papua New Guinea on Oct. 14, 2011.

Twelve people, including an Australian, were killed when a light plane hit just short of landing in Papua New Guinea’s rugged Western province, Australian authorities and media said on Thursday.                              

The Sunbird Aviation aircraft crashed into swamp just short of the Kiunga airport runway, killing all passengers and the Australian pilot, according to Australian Broadcasting Corp.

"Yesterday we encountered a tragedy, a plane crash," Kiunga's police commander Joe Puri told local media.

"A small plane that arrived from Oksapmin just before landing crashed into the swamp, with all the passengers, including the pilot, dead."

The broadcaster said three children were among those killed while Australian media reported the Australian on board was the pilot.

The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs confirmed one of its nationals was on the Sunbird Aviation flight and that it crashed on approach to Kiunga.

"We continue to work closely with Papua New Guinea authorities," a department spokesman told AFP, without confirming whether or not he was the pilot.

"Our thoughts are with the passengers and crew of the aircraft and their families. Due to privacy obligations, we are unable to provide further information."

More than 20 planes have crashed in Papua New Guinea since 2000, where the rugged terrain and shortage of connecting roads makes air travel crucial for many residents.

TRTWorld, Reuters