Missing helicopter pilot found dead

Last updated 15:48 13/07/2012
Deputy chief pilot Antony Annan.
Deputy chief pilot Antony Annan.

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Three men missing since their helicopter crashed in Papua New Guinea on Friday have now been found dead.

Antony Annan, from Alexandra, along with fellow pilot Russell Aitken, 42, and engineer Emmett Fynn, 36, were all on board the Bell 206 helicopter when it went missing near Mt Hagen, in the southern highlands.

Helicopter company Hevilift have confirmed they had found the wreckage this morning and all three were found dead.

Last Friday a mayday call was sent five minutes after the helicopter left an InterOil Drill Rig site at 3.25pm (local time) in low cloud with reduced visibility.

Searchers were handed their first breakthrough yesterday after a villager in Papua New Guinea, who was searching water ways and rivers, found some pieces of plastic from a "fly away kit" - a piece of equipment usually kept in the boot of the helicopters operated by Hevilift.

Hevilift group managing director Paul Booij said this discovery made a big difference in the search.

"We knew then that the area where we had been searching was correct and we concentrated the ground search teams upstream of the location of where the debris was found.

"Unfortunately our worst fears were realized this morning."

He said it was a harrowing time for the staff and their families.

"We are devastated that this has happened. Every one of us had hoped to find them alive and now we have to deal with the reality.

"We will be conducting a thorough investigation of what went wrong and why it went wrong, and we will also be co-operating fully with all authorities in their investigations. Until those investigations are complete, we will not be entering into any speculation."

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