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Cessna 172 Rescue team should be recognised: Vocea

Cessna 172 Rescue team should be recognised: Vocea
Commissioner Northern Jovesa Vocea on March 8, 2018. Photo: Shratika Naidu
March 09
09:42 2018

The disciplinary personnel that were involved in the rescue operation of removing the bodies of the late aviators from the Cessna 172 crash site should be recognised.

This is the view of a senior Government official, after an emotional farewell at Waiqele Airport in Labasa yesterday.

Commissioner Northern Jovesa Vocea was among those who witnessed the departure of the late student pilot Merelesita Lutu and the late instructor Iliesa Tawalo’s caskets on a Pacific Flying School aircraft.

The pair were on a routine training flight when the Cessna 172 registration DQFTR they were travelling in crashed into a cliff at Delaikoro last Monday during bad weather.

Mr Vocea said the team from the National Fire Authority, Fiji Police Force and Republic of Fiji Military Forces risked their lives during the operation.

“I was part of the team last week when they carried out the operation, and we by now are aware that the crash site is a mountainous terrain and officers worked in very cold and rainy conditions to extract their bodies,” Mr Vocea said.

Mr Vocea said he could vouch for these officers as they sacrificed everything to attend to the call of duty.

“This is the work of the good Samaritans. The officers should be given some recognition for their bravery. I salute them for the work,” he said.

Also, part of the rescue team were young men of Dogoru Village in Macuata, Mr Vocea said.

“I know they are the people of the vanua and in times like this they decided to stand together and help. We presented a token of appreciation to them last week, but it is no way near to the quantity of their effort and sacrifice made.

“I would like to say a big thank you to the local communities for their support,” Mr Vocea said.

Update of wreckage

When questioned about the retrieval of the wreckage of the aircraft, Mr Vocea said it was too early to make a comment.

New Zealand air accident investigator Andrew McGregor is currently working with a team to determine the cause of the crash.

Edited by Caroline Ratucadra

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