13 killed in Papua New Guinea plane crash

13 people have perished after their plane went down in dense Papua New Guinea jungle on the way to the Kokoda Track.

They were among 13 people on the Airlines of Papua New Guinea flight CG4684 that went down just north of the village of Isurava in dense and rugged terrain more than 5,000 feet above sea level.

Lax aviation standards have been a problem in Papua New Guinea for many years.

There are questions surrounding the investigation of 19 air crashes since 2000 which, up until the latest accident, had killed 16 people.

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd expressed his sadness over how the adventure of a lifetime had turned into a horrible tragedy for all involved.

He today confirmed the deaths in parliament, saying it was his "sad duty" to reveal there were no survivors from the flight.

"This is distressing news for all families of those concerned," Mr Rudd said.

Two of the nine Australians were a father and a daughter from the same family.

"There is a horrible tragedy involved when families send off their loved ones for what they expect to be the experience of a lifetime only for it to turn into a tragedy such as this," Mr Rudd said.

Mr Rudd conveyed the thoughts and the prayers of the parliament and the nation to the families and friends of those killed in the "tragic disaster".

The information was relayed to Foreign Minister Stephen Smith by Australia's High Commissioner Chris Moraitis who had been told Papua New Guinea police on the ground at the crash site had confirmed no one on the plane had survived.

All eight families have been informed about the loss of their loved ones.

The 13 people aboard the flight included a Japanese national and three Papua New Guineans.

Mr Smith offered his condolences to the families.

Australia last night deployed a range of military assistance for the search and rescue operation.

Mr Smith said Australia had done a lot to assist the Papua New Guinea search and rescue effort.

"Unfortunately on this occasion with a terrible and tragic outcome," he said.

Mr Smith said Australia's high commissioner had advised him with a "heavy heart" that Papua New Guinea police on the ground had confirmed that there were "no survivors".

Seven Victorians and two Queenslanders intending to walk the track with the No Roads Expeditions trekking company were on the plane that went down in the Owen Stanley ranges.

One member of the group is believed to be Matthew Leonard, 28, a Victorian fireman and part-time tour guide.

Other Australian members of the group are believed to include Max Cranwell, Kelly Weir, Max Harris, Euan Comrie and Peter Holliday.

Local guide Steven Jaruba of Kokoda was also reportedly on board, along with a Japanese tourist and two local pilots, one of whom was believed to be a woman.

Shonia Holliday of Bendigo said her husband Peter was on his way with his cousin to walk the Kokoda Track in a tribute to his veteran grandfather.

Transport Minister Anthony Albanese said Australia would provide all possible support to authorities investigating the crash.

Four specialist investigators from the Australian Transport Safety Bureau would be sent to Papua New Guinea later on Wednesday to assist the collection and analysis of evidence.

"Australia's transport agencies stand ready to offer any further assistance whatsoever, as requested by the Papua New Guinea government," he said.



Source: The New Zealand Herald

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