South Island, still reeling from devastation caused by this morning’s magnitude 7.1 earthquake, has been slammed with another disaster this afternoon.
Nine people lost their lives and one was injured in a plane crash at Fox Glacier airport.
Reports are that the plane burst into flames shortly after takeoff. It’s thought that the plane was connected to adventure tourism company Skydive New Zealand
There is only one sky diving company based at Fox Glacier, Skydive New Zealand.
A message on the company’s answerphone this afternoon said, “unfortunately, we will not be skydiving for the rest of the day.” source
At later report in the NZHerald said that a loud bang was heard shortly after takeoff and that four tourists were understood to be among the dead – they were from Ireland, England, Germany and Australia..
The names of the deceased were released later.
The pilot was Chaminda Senadhira (33) from Queenstown.
The four jump instructors were Adam Bennett (47) from Motueka; Michael Suter (32) from New Plymouth; Christopher McDonald (62) from Mapua and Rodney Miller (55) from Greymouth.
All the four tourists were also killed. They were Patrick Byrne (26) from County Wexford, Ireland; Glenn Bourke (18) from Coburg, Victoria, Australia; Annita Kirsten (23) from Germany and Brad Coker (24) from Farnborough, England.
Our thoughts are with the families and friends of the deceased and injured.
From TV NZ two days later:
“New regulations set to be introduced by next October will ensure more stringent safety and maintenance checks are carried out by commercial adventure aviation operators. “
A recent wide ranging review of the adventure tourism sector in New Zealand found a number of gaps in safety, with specific reference to commerical adventure aviation operators the following recommendation was noted by cabinet:
General – Note that Cabinet has approved the development of aviation rules for commercial adventure aviation and new maritime rules for commercial jet boating and rafting to improve the safety regulatory framework for these activities, and that this work is well advanced.
Safety Gaps Found in Adventure Tourism Review