12 August 2009
Hon Stephen Smith - Statement in the House
On indulgence Mr Deputy Speaker, I would like to update the House on PNG Airlines Flight CG4684.
Thankyou Mr Deputy Speaker and I thank the Member for Blair for his assistance.
Mr Deputy Speaker, I regret to advise the House that the missing plane PNG Airlines flight CG4684 has been located but that the plane has crashed.
A PNG search and rescue reconnaissance helicopter this morning located the crash site.
The site is located just north of the village of Isurava at an altitude of approximately 5,500 feet.
The helicopter landed some way below the crash site.
A group of PNG police officers embarked from the helicopter and are now attempting to reach the crash site. But the terrain presents obvious difficulties of access.
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Consular officers have contacted all of the families of the nine Australians on the flight, and in the last hour have advised them that a crash site has been located.
Obviously our thoughts are with the families at this time.
Mr Deputy Speaker, the Australian Defence Force Sea King helicopter is currently on the tarmac at Port Moresby with four PNG police officers and an Australian doctor onboard, and will depart as soon as possible.
In addition to the four PNG police officers and the Australian doctor, the Consul from the Australian High Commission in Port Moresby will also be on board.
The flying time to the site is approximately half an hour.
The Sea King helicopter will attempt to land near the crash site but this will entirely depend upon the terrain and weather conditions.
The ADF Caribou aircraft which was stationed over night in Port Moresby, containing additional PNG search and rescue personnel and the Deputy High Commissioner at the Australian High Commission at Port Moresby, will depart Port Moresby at 11am this morning for up to a 45 minute flight to Kokoda village, which is approximately 3hours walk from the crash site.
Leaving open the prospect of three separate parties trying to access the crash site at high altitude and in very difficult circumstances.
Regrettably Mr Deputy Speaker, I am advised the weather is closing in and is deteriorating and very is likely to hamper these efforts, both air and foot, after about midday today
Mr Deputy Speaker, I'm not in any position to give any advice at to the passengers and crew on the plane. But given that a crash site has been located we have very, very grave concerns about the safety and welfare of the nine Australians, the three Papua New Guineans and the one Japanese citizens on board the plane.
I thank the House and the Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs for its cooperation. I will endeavour to update the House with further details as soon as they come to hand and after the families have been advised.
I thank the House.