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Missing plane: NEMA seeks help from US experts

Posted by By UCHE USIM on 2008/03/28 | Views: 652 |

Missing plane: NEMA seeks help from US experts


As hopes of recovering the Beechcraft 1900D airplane that went missing over a week ago wane, the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) has concluded arrangements to fly in search and rescue experts from the United States and other developed nations to help recover the 19-seater aircraft and its three-man crew.

As hopes of recovering the Beechcraft 1900D airplane that went missing over a week ago wane, the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) has concluded arrangements to fly in search and rescue experts from the United States and other developed nations to help recover the 19-seater aircraft and its three-man crew.

The incident, which has marred Nigeria's image on the global aviation scene has also attracted criticisms from virtually all sectors of the country.

NEMA’s Director of Search and Rescue (SAR), Air Commodore D.A Shuaibu told Sunday Sun on phone that the option of co-opting expatriates became inevitable because the agency had done its best so far without success. He said that the agency would not close its door to foreign countries with superior equipment for recovery exercise of this nature.

"We're still searching for the wreckage of the airplane for now and let's see what will happen before Tuesday. We're considering looking outside for assistance. We'll meet on Tuesday to evaluate the options available for us. We can't close our door to foreign assistance. That is the situation now," he explained.

On the greatest challenge confronting NEMA in the quest to recover the lost airplane, Shuaibu said the Port Harcourt-Obudu terrain is so bad that helicopters conducting SAR operations cannot get anyway near the place.

"That terrain is a mangrove forest. We're talking of thick trees of 100 feet tall, all joined together with no space in between them. Worse still, no human habitation is in that region, not even 10,000 miles away. So, you can see our dilemma. So, if we get to the place where foreigners must come, we won't resist that," he said.

While assuring that the aircraft would be found, he recalled that sometime ago, it took the U.S. over one month to locate a missing aircraft, stressing that searching for a missing aircraft is not an easy task that lasts a few minutes.
Meanwhile, stakeholders in the aviation sector have collectively lambasted the aviation agencies, not only on their failure to locate the missing airplane, but also the general decay being witnessed in the sector.

The President, Aviation Round Table, Capt Dele Ore said there is every reason to probe the funding of the various aviation parastatals as the level of their respective infrastructural facilities remains an issue of utmost concern.
He regretted that it is only during crisis that attention is focused on the aviation sector and once the issue is over, everyone goes back to status quo.

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