2007 Paramount Airlines Mil Mi-8 crash
A Paramount Airlines Mil Mi-8 identical to the one involved in the incident.
|Date||June 3, 2007|
|Site||Lungi, Sierra Leone|
|Aircraft type||Mil Mi-8|
In 2007, Helicopter, hovercraft, and sea ferry were the only practical ways to travel between the airport and the capital, Freetown, which are separated by the Sierra Leone River as it meets the Atlantic Ocean.
The passengers on board were Togolese football fans who were returning from watching their national team play that of Sierra Leone, and the two pilots were of Ukrainian origin. The passengers had chartered the aircraft specifically for the flight.
Crash and emergency response
According to an eyewitness, both pilots jumped out immediately prior to the crash. Later reports stated that 22 were killed, and that the Russian copilot was the only survivor. The aircraft caught fire upon impact and was destroyed before firefighters were able to extinguish the flames. According to airport witnesses the firefighters did not attend the scene until 40 minutes after the crash. The firefighter who had the keys to the fire truck was not at his station in the airport at the time. Airport staff had to douse the flames with buckets of water.
The government of Togo sent a six-person delegation to help with the investigation into the crash. The majority of the dead were identified as Togolese football fans who had come to cheer their team's 1-0 victory over Sierra Leone at an African Cup of Nations qualifying match on Sunday. They included Togolese politician Richard Attipoe who was serving as Togo's minister of sports.
Sierra Leone's Minister of transport and communications Dr Prince Harding as well as the two top aviation officials in the country lost their jobs as a result of the crash and a commission of enquiry has been set up.
|Wikinews has related news: Helicopter crashes in Sierra Leone, killing 20|