Sunday, October 07, 2012

BREAKING: Fly Montserrat air crash

Fly Montserrat VP MON at crash site, fair use Observer

ZJB just broke news on air that at about 4:20 4:00 pm 4:16 pm 4:00  ~ 4:15 pm, a Fly Montserrat aircraft has crashed on takeoff at V C Bird Airport, Antigua. No word on injuries or details on events. [Final u/d, Tue 10th Oct: the pilot, a young, female Jamaican teacher at the Montserrat Secondary School and a Guyanese woman coming to assist here daughter in M/rat died. A British volunteer on an ecological project is in the Hospital in stable condition.]

 Added from Observer Newspaper Antigua, just up a few moments ago, i.e. c. 6:15 pm, as update 4:
 Two people were killed and two injured after a Fly Montserrat nine-seater plane crashed shortly after its 4 pm take-off from VC International Airport.
The airport has been closed to the public and residents are being urged to stay away from the area to enable emergency services to carry out their work.

The pilot and a woman passenger have been confirmed dead while the other two occupants of the plane were injured and taken to Mount St John’s Medical Centre for treatment.
The Fly Montserrat apparently lost altitude and plummeted into the end of the runway.
 Observer says they will be monitoring onward.

Update 6 from Observer finally loading at ~ 7 pm, adds:
The nine-seater plane crashed shortly after take-off at around 4.16 pm.

The airport was initially closed to the public, but has since reopened. Residents are still being urged to stay away from the area to enable emergency services to carry out their work.

The deceased woman is believed to have been a British tourist holidaying with her husband.

The Fly Montserrat plane apparently lost altitude and plummeted into the end of the runway.

An eyewitness told OBSERVER Media he heard the aircraft’s engine rev before cutting out. He said he heard the impact and knew “something had to be wrong.”

In a separate incident, earlier alarm was sparked at the airport when a section of the roof at the arrival lounge collapsed.
Thankfully, no one was inside the lounge at the time.
Today must have been an unhappily exciting day in Antigua. I wonder if the collapse was weather linked, per U/D 5 below.

U/D 7, ZJB, 7:06 pm: Flight 107 -- a Britten-Norman Islander -- crashed on takeoff, pilot and female passenger dead, two passengers critically were injured and have been taken to the Mt St Johns hospital. 

U/D 9, ZJB newsite 7:39 pm:  Reports, has a clear picture:

VP-MON crash site, fair use, ZJB
Added, Oct 17: Front view

Front view, from KR
 The report adds:
The airline has not released any details on the crash but to say they are waiting word on the three passengers and pilot on board. Reports out of Antigua are that two have died, including the pilot. The other two on board are said to be critically injured and have been taken to the Mount St. John Hospital.

The airport was closed temporarily after the accident. Lightning was thought to have been a contributing factor to the crash.
U/D 10: From SKN Vibes and thence Carib Arena, a clear pic from the other side:

Crash site from the right hand side, showing the sea beyond the site, note too the contrasting positions of the
right and left elevators in the two clear pictures and the top fuzzy one.  (cf. Wiki on Flight control surfaces, here.) This may be a consequence of the crash (also observe the obvious wrinkles in the fuselage skin on the RH side in front of the tailplane), but it is worth noting that the RH one is in a position consistent with a dive. The description of a surge in the engine and a cut-out from a witness, is suggestive of loss of engine power to one or more of the propellers. That points in turn to an emergency condition developing on take-off. Another witness, reported Mon Evening/Tue AM on ZJB, describes the plane as tilting on the side then plunging to the ground. The site of the crash, to the right of the main runway, indicates a turning right.
U/D 11, overnight: Later in the evening, ZJB stated that a second passenger had passed away, which tends to support the earlier report of a third death. MNI Alive -- which came up quite late -- has a statement that there were four passengers, which tends to support the report of a trapped person, who if this report is reasonably accurate, would apparently be less injured than those rushed to hospital in reported critical condition. MNI Alive hosts a statement by the manager of Fly Montserrat that indicates a time of 1600 hrs or 4 pm [updated to 4:15 pm] , confirms three deaths, indicates that there were three passengers and a pilot and states that the matter has been referred to the UK Dept of Transportation, so no public discussion on causes will be given at this time. ZJB also released the name of the pilot, indicating that next of kin have been contacted, and also confirming a personal report from a source close to the technical events from some hours before. The pilot seems to have been a fine young man with a wife and a new baby. May God provide comfort in this time of grieving.

May God have mercy on us all and comfort the bereaved. END

PS: I have deliberately built this report around an initial item and updates as they flowed in, so that the reader can see how news develops, how multiple sources come in with diverse, divergent details, and how core facts can be true even as details diverge then converge. Notice in particular how the time of the crash clusters around two points in time, and in the end reverts to the 4 pm number of the second report based on convergence of multiple sources. This pattern of breaking news and reports with a convergent core and circumstantial secondary details that are diverse and perhaps partly conflicting or at least hard to reconcile is a well known pattern of truthful and independent, witness-based reports on events. The pattern is instantly familiar to anyone who has studied the breaking news aspect of the resurrection narratives in the NT across that first Easter, and it is also a feature of the tests for verisimilitude of testimony highlighted by Simon Greenleaf in his The Testimony of the Evangelists.  We should make use of this pattern as a part of our ability to assess credible, well warranted truth and differentiate it from spin-based manipulated fiction.


Update, 5:30 pm: Local word is four fatalities [later news reports, 2; yet later, 3 possibly due to a passenger in critical condition succumbing to injuries], two survivors, pilot among the fatalities.  Further word is, on lifting, plane fell, hit ground; a stall of some sort perhaps. No fire or disintegration and breakup of the aircraft. In-a-gist reports a tweet summary of three passenger and one pilot fatalities, no survivors. God have mercy on their souls and comfort their families in their hour of sudden grieving.

Update 2, 5:50 pm: Apparently live ZJB update, the aircraft took off and crash-landed on takeoff, 3 passengers and pilot taken to Mt St Johns Hospital, visual confirmation stated by a contact on the scene being interviewed of persons in stretchers taken away in emergency vehicles. One is wing damaged on ground the other in the air at E end of runway at V C Bird [i.e. evidently near Winthorpes Bay], suggesting the aircraft has not disintegrated as a whole, no report of fire though fire vehicles are apparently at the scene. Huddle with four ambulances still at the site. Officials at the site tight lipped but ZJB raises an "unconfirmed report" that the pilot is a fatality. 

Update 3: Sat photo, clipped from Google Maps under fair use:

V C Bird Airport, clipped Google Earth, fair use. A report suggests that the crash site is in the triangular area at the E end of the runway, next to the aircraft parking area near the whitish zone on the satellite picture.
Update 5, c. 6:40 pm: Online Caribbean news agencies are beginning to pick up the story:

Caribareana, has a pic from the other side of the aircraft, showing as well a line of emergency vehicles and officials/investigators gathered:

Crash Site, from Caribarena
Dominica News Online, adds: "Reports suggest weather may be a factor as heavy rains and thunder were reported around the time of the crash." Also: "The airport was shut down but has since been re-opened."

U/D 8, 7:29 pm: has a forum on the crash, with somewhat conflicting details, suggesting one of the passengers taken to the airport may have passed away as well, but that has to be classified as unconfirmed. There is some remark as at 4:59 pm of passengers -- "others" -- being taken to airport, and one being trapped in the plane. ZJB was just up, confirms the pattern of two dead, two survivors.