US, Canada to probe Guinean plane crash

 The Government of Liberia (GOL) has disclosed that the Governments of the United States of America and Canada have agreed to help with the investigation regarding the plan crash which claimed the lives of a Guinean military delegation in Liberia.

The disclosure was made Tuesday, 12 February 2013 by Liberia’s Ministers of Information and Foreign Affairs, Messrs. Lewis Browne and Augustine Ngafuan in separate interviews in Monrovia. A CASA Aircraft (CN35) 3X-GGG conveying senior Guinean government officials to Liberia’s 56th Armed Forces Day celebrations Monday, February 11, 2013 crashed in Charlesville, Margibi County, close to the country’s lone international airport, the Roberts International Airport (RIA), killing eleven people.

Wreckage of the airliner was beyond recognition as rescue workers, including Red Cross workers and other health workers, who later trooped to the crash scene, removed charred bodies of victims from the burnt aircraft which crash landed few kilometers from the RIA. Liberia’s Information Minister Lewis G. Brown, in a press conference later Monday afternoon confirmed the crash, indicating that: "The Roberts International Airport (RIA) confirms a crash incident involving a CASA Aircraft (CN35) with registration 3X-GGG approximately three miles south of the aerodrome."

He revealed that the crashed plane flew from Conakry, the Republic of Guinea, adding that:  "At 0709 GMT Air Traffic Control cleared the flight to land at RIA. That was the last known contact with the crew. A search and rescue team has been dispatched to the scene. The team comprises of RIA Rescue and Firefighting Department, UNMIL, authorities of the Liberia Civil Aviation Authority (LAA), the Firestone PPD Rescue and Firefighting Team, Firestone Medical Team and the Red Cross."

A presidential statement issued in Guinea Monday through that country’s ministry of defense confirmed the deaths of Guinean army chief of staff, Gen. Souleymane Kelefa Diallo and five others, who were part of an official Guinean government delegation aboard the crashed aircraft bound for this year’s celebration of Liberia’s Armed Forces Day.

Reports gathered by this paper quotes Guinean military spokesman Alpha Barry as saying that: “I can confirm that there was a crash ... There were between 12 and 18 officers on the plane.”

President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf visits the crash sceneThe reports divulged that two pilots were also killed in the crash, adding that the crashed CASA Aircraft (CN35) was an official Guinean military aircraft bought for Guinea’s air force for US$12 million. The reports revealed that a statement from the office of Guinean President Alpha Conde quotes the Guinean leader as immediately appointing Gen. Namory Traore as interim army chief of staff of Guinea.

 Meanwhile, Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, while speaking at the official ceremony marking Armed Forces Day Monday, confirmed the crash, and called for a moment of silence for the crash victims; declaring Tuesday, 12 February 2013 a day of mourning, that was observed as a national holiday throughout the country.

Howbeit, Information Minister Browne divulged Tuesday that the black box and the digital voice recorder from the crashed CASA (CN35) 3X-GGG aircraft were found, and that the government of Canada has agreed to take the recovered items for examination. For his part, Foreign Affairs Minister Ngafuan Tuesday informed the populous local radio talk show, the Truth Breakfast Show, that: “Our bilateral partners, the Americans are offering to assist with the investigation.”

He corroborated Information Minister Browne’s assertion regarding the recovery of the crashed aircraft’s black box, adding that: “The crash site was protected; so all the relevant information has been recovered from there to assist the investigation so that we can know precisely what caused the crash.”

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