The plane was a Brazilian manufactured Embraer-190 belonging to Mozambique Airlines (LAM). According to LAM Chief Executive Officer Marleyn Manave, the plane left Maputo at 11.26 on Friday, and was due to arrive in Luanda at 14.10 local time.
Contact with the plane was lost over northern Namibia, where it was raining torrentially. Initially there was hope that the plane might have landed at the airport in the Namibian town of Rundo, at the western end of the Caprivi Strip, the narrow neck of Namibian territory that separates Botswana from Angola.
When Mozambican Transport Minister Gabriel Muthisse held a press conference on Friday night, he was still hoping that the plane might have made an emergency landing. He said the government had been in contact with the Botswanan and Namibian authorities, and “the lack of any definitive information is because the area has been struck by bad weather, and it is still raining heavily”.
On Friday, the Namibian Air Force sent planes to look for the missing Embraer, but in the darkness and the rain, they were unable to spot it.
When the Namibian police reached the area on Saturday morning, they found the wreckage of the plane in the Bwabwata National Park in the Caprivi Strip.
Deputy Police Commissioner Willy Bampton, cited by the Reuters news agency, said the plane was “burnt to ashes”, and there were no survivors. The cause of the disaster is not yet known.
According to a list released by LAM, 16 of the 33 people on board were Mozambicans (including all six crew members). The other passengers were nine Angolans, five Portuguese, a Brazilian, a Chinese and a French citizen.
The Embraer was a new aircraft, acquired by LAM in 2012 under a leasing system (whereby another company buys the plane and leases it to LAM).
Up until now, LAM has enjoyed an excellent safety record. This is the first fatal accident in the history of the company, which was set up in 1980.Post published in: Africa News