Police have found the burned wreckage of a Mozambican Airlines plane a day after it went missing in a remote area in northeastern Namibia, saying none of the 33 people aboard from several countries had survived.
It’s one of the worst accidents on record in Mozambique’s civil aviation history.
“My team on the ground have found the wreckage. No survivors. The plane is totally burned,” Willie Bampton, a regional police coordinator in Namibia’s Kavango region, said on Saturday.
The aircraft, en route from Mozambique to Angola, went down in deserted, swampy terrain in the Bwabwata National Park, where Namibia turns into a narrow strip of land sandwiched between Botswana and Angola.
In Maputo, LAM, the acronym for Mozambican Airlines, had not yet officially confirmed the crash.
It only said that flight TM470 had 27 passengers and six crew on board, including: 10 Mozambicans, nine Angolans, five Portuguese, one French national, one Brazilian and one Chinese.
In Lisbon, the foreign ministry said the Brazilian had, in fact, dual Portuguese-Brazilian nationality.
The Mozambique government was holding an emergency meeting in the presidential palace but likewise made no immediate statement, other than to confirm that 33 people had been on board.
The European Union banned LAM and all air carriers certified in Mozambique from flying in its airspace in 2011, citing “significant safety deficiencies”.
The concern was about Mozambique’s civil aviation authority, rather than the track record of the various airlines.
The LAM plane took off from Maputo on Friday morning for the nearly four-hour flight to the Angolan capital Luanda.
Mozambican authorities confirmed the plane was a Brazil-manufactured Embraer 190 aircraft and said it was the newest plane in the LAM fleet.
With 100 seats, it was two-thirds empty.
Last contact with air traffic controllers was made about two hours after takeoff over north Namibia during heavy rainfall. The airlines speculated on Friday it may have landed in that area.
Namibia police sent a search team to the area after Botswana officials alerted them of a plane crash in the area.
The search for the plane was hampered both by the rough terrain and torrential rain pounding the area where the plane went missing.
The accident is the deadliest for Mozambique since a plane carrying then president Samora Machel crashed in 1986 in South Africa en route home from an Africa’s leaders’ summit.
That crash, which shocked the world, remains a mystery but was thought to be linked to tensions with the then apartheid regime in Pretoria. The crash claimed at least 34 lives.