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Rescuers struggle to get to aircraft

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Two survive emergency landing.

STUCK: Emergency vehicles struggled to navigate the treacherous terrain to provide assistance to the two occupants of a private aircraft that was forced to make an emergency landing just outside of Kimberley yesterday. It is believed that the small aircraft belongs to a private training school. A police helicopter was apparently called in to help with the rescue of the pilot and his student. They were transported to the Kimberley Airport. Picture: Soraya Crowie

EMERGENCY vehicles struggled to navigate the treacherous terrain to provide assistance to two occupants of a private aircraft that was forced to make an emergency landing just outside of Kimberley earlier today.

It is believed that the small aircraft belongs to a private flight training school, not located in Kimberley.

The assistance of a police helicopter was apparently called to help with the rescue of the two occupants of the aircraft and they were transported to safety at the Kimberley Airport.

Response teams from the Department of Health and private companies converged on the scene, approximately 5km from the Kimberley Airport on the Magersfontein road, after the pilot made an emergency landing shortly before lunchtime.

It is believed that the pilot reported engine failure before making the emergency landing.

Responding to the incident, emergency personnel in 4×4 vehicles sped over the terrain in an attempt to reach the aircraft that had landed on a pan on a farm, only to have to be rescued themselves when their vehicles got stuck in massive dongas on the farm.

None of the vehicles or rescue crew were able to reach the aircraft and a private towing company had to be called to assist one of the vehicles that got stuck in a donga.

The Northern Cape police yesterday confirmed the incident. 

“A private light aircraft made an emergency landing just five kilometres away from the Kimberley Airport. There were no injuries reported and no case was opened,” police spokesperson Lieutenant-Colonel Dimakatso Mooi said.

It is believed that at approximately 12.34 the crash alarm was activated which then alerted the airport fire and rescue team. 

It is alleged that once radio communication was established with the tower,  the PAL 28 aircraft reported engine failure as it was approaching Kimberley Airport. 

It is further believed that communication was lost with the aircraft and it could no longer detect the aircraft on the radar.

Emergency response teams were then alerted and apparently a search and rescue operation was activated but at the scene, the terrain was swampy due to the recent rains and access to the immediate vicinity of the plane could not be reached. 

At the scene, it was noticed that the aircraft was intact, and according to sources who got close to the aircraft, two occupants were seen next to it.

The incident commander then set-up an Incident Command Post approx. 2-3km from the immediate vicinity of the incident as it was extremely difficult to access the incident site. 

The two occupants were then assessed by medics at the Kimberley Airport and found to have no major injuries.