Chinese experts to help investigate military helicopter crash

16 Apr 2014 16:50pm
GROOTFONTEIN, 16 APR (NAMPA) – Namibian Air Force Commander, Air Vice-Marshall Martin Pinehas says investigations have been launched to determine the cause of last Friday’s helicopter crash at the Grootfontein Military Base.
Pinehas told Nampa in an interview on Tuesday at the Grootfontein Military Base that the Ministry of Defence has instituted a board of inquiry to determine the cause of the crash.
“The investigating team comprises of Namibia Defence Force (NDF) officials, experts from the Republic of China as well as the manufacturers of this Z-9 helicopter,” said Pinehas.
Nampa was informed that the NDF Z-9 helicopter which crashed last Friday was still relatively new - approximately three years old.
The military helicopter crashed shortly after lift-off and burst into flames, instantly killing four of the nine people on board. Two other people from that crash died later in the hospital.
The Air Force Commander said the helicopter was being flown by Senior Pilot Elifas Simon Angala, 36, and co-flight officer Evangeline Naufiku Nghimwenavali.
He said that the helicopter successfully took off, but suddenly came down and crashed on the ground surface, bursting into flames at about 05h05 that Friday.
The 28-year-old Nghimwenavali, Wilka Ndanyengwa Sheya, 27, and Toini Nekulilo Martin, 52, died on the spot.
Pinehas explained that Martin was a member of the Namibian Police Force (NamPol) and a mother of Martin Shoopala - the NDF Air Traffic Controller at Grootfontein.
A three-year-old boy, Mcvince Mwiya who died later at a hospital in Grootfontein, was the son of one of the general labourers at the military base.
Hendrick Amalwa, six, also died later at a hospital in Windhoek where he was hospitalised.
“Amalwa is a nephew of Martin,” said Pinehas.
Angala, who was flying the helicopter, sustained serious injuries and died on Tuesday afternoon in the Katutura State Hospital.
Three other injured people who were also on board are still in a critical condition at different hospitals in Windhoek.
They were identified as Werner Nashilundo, 35, Nabot Kamati, 35, and Johanna Hailaula, 31.
The helicopter was set to pick up Defence Minister Nahas Angula from Windhoek so that he can officiate at the graduation ceremony of the Air Force students at Grootfontien.
Angula also told mourners at a memorial service which was held here for the crash victims on Tuesday, that experts were already busy working to determine the cause of the accident.
He said family members and friends of the deceased will be informed of the findings once the investigations have been concluded.
(NAMPA)
MS/JK