ST JOHN’S, Antigua – Three people have been confirmed dead while another is fighting for life at Mount St John’s Medical Centre following yesterday’s horrific plane crash at VC Bird International Airport.
Among those dead are the pilot, Captain Jason Forbes, and two passengers who were on board the Fly Montserrat flight 107, which nosedived onto runway seven at 4:10 pm yesterday.
Forbes and one female passenger died on the scene around 5 pm and 5:15 pm respectively.
The third unidentified passenger was pronounced dead shortly after arriving at hospital.
The nine-seater Britten Norman Islander Registration VP-MON destined for Montserrat suffered damage to the underbelly and one wing.
Coolidge Fire Station responded within two minutes and emergency medical services and additional fire engines reached the scene within eight minutes, according to the Airport Authority. Six ambulances and two fire trucks were also deployed.
The airport was closed immediately after the crash and several flights were diverted – including an Air Canada flight, which was diverted to Martinique – until services resumed at 6:40 pm.
Passengers, on both a British Airways and American Airlines flight, who were getting ready to depart at the time of the incident, had to wait until the airport reopened.
Meanwhile, major access roads to the airport were flooded with traffic as motorists rushed to the airport to witness the aftermath of the disaster.
Chief Executive Officer of the Antigua & Barbuda Authority, Stanley Smith, who took up the job last month, assured the public that the airport remains safe.
The Eastern Caribbean Civil Aviation Authority (ECCA) has begun investigations into the incident.
Donald Macfield, director of the ECCA, said he was unable to provide a timeline for the investigations and warned it could take some time.
It’s believed to be the first major aviation incident in antigua since a plane nosedived into the sea at Dutchman’s Bay in the 1980s.
(More in today’s Daily OBSERVER)