Australian Commonwealth Coat of Arms

Plane crash in Papua New Guinea

Statement by the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade

2 September 2010

The Government continues to work closely with PNG authorities and the companies involved in the tragic air crash on Misima Island on Tuesday 31 August, which killed three Australians and one New Zealand citizen.

The three Australians who died in the crash were Lesley Wright, Richard “Chris” Hart and Darren Moore. One New Zealand citizen was also killed. A further man, a New Zealand citizen and Australian permanent resident, Kelby Cheyne, survived the crash.

I again extend my condolences to the families, friends and work colleagues of those who died in the crash.

On 1 September, officers of the Australian High Commission in Port Moresby and a medical team travelled to Misima Island to assist with Mr Cheyne’s medical evacuation and to facilitate repatriation of the remains of the deceased.

Mr Cheyne returned to Australia on the evening of Wednesday 1 September on an International SOS care flight from Port Moresby and was hospitalised with minor injuries.

The remains of the deceased left Misima Island on a charter flight today, accompanied by an Australian High Commission official. The remains were met on arrival in Port Moresby by the Acting Australian High Commissioner to Papua New Guinea and were transferred to a local funeral home.

The Australian High Commission in Port Moresby is working with the PNG police and other local authorities to seek to have the remains repatriated to Australia at the earliest opportunity.

Investigation of the cause of the crash is a matter for PNG authorities. A good relationship exists between the PNG Accident Investigation Commission (AIC) and its Australian counterparts. In response to a request from the PNG AIC, a team of three Australian Transport Safety Bureau air crash investigators has arrived in Papua New Guinea to help with the investigation. The team is expected to arrive on Misima Island tomorrow, Friday 3 September. An Australian consular official will assist them there.

Consular officers in Port Moresby and Canberra are working with the airline company and local authorities to keep the families of those affected by the crash informed on developments. Officials are also in contact with their New Zealand counterparts.

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