13 Aug 2007

Post mortem shows pilot in French Polynesia crash did not suffer heart attack

6:28 am on 13 August 2007

Initial investigations into last week's fatal plane crash in French Polynesia suggest the accident was not caused by the pilot suffering a sudden health problem.

The Air Moorea Twin Otter with 19 passengers aboard crashed into the sea shortly after take-off from Moorea en route to nearby Tahiti.

Officials say a post-mortem on the 53-year-old pilot, Michel Santurenne, showed no sign of a heart problem.

16 bodies have been recovered, with the remaining four believed to be inside the wreckage which is thought to be about 800 meters under water.

The French secretary of state for overseas territories, Christian Estrosi, has made a 24 hour visit to Tahiti to express his government's solidarity with the victims' families.

He also joined several thousand people in Papeete last night for a ceremony to commemorate those who perished.

The territory has also observed two days of mourning declared by the local government.