16 Dec 2002

Madang deputy governor and seven others die in plane crash

5:46 pm on 16 December 2002

A plane crash in Papua New Guinea has killed all eight on board just minutes after a remote airstrip was officially opened.

The deputy governor of Madang, Joe Tola, and a former governor, Stahl Musa, are among those who died when the twin-engine Britten Norman Islander crashed shortly after takeoff.

The provincial government delegation had just opened a new airstrip in the Finisterre Mountains and was returning to the provincial capital Madang at the time of the crash.

The inter-government minister, Sir Peter Barter, says soon after takeoff the aircraft slammed into a cliff.

The cause of the crash is yet to be established.

The governor, James Yali, says a funeral programme is yet to be drawn up and a day of mourning will be declared.