Lionair Flight 602
An Antonov AN-24RV similar to the one involved.
|Date||29 September 1998|
|Summary||Shot down by a missile fired from a MANPADS|
|Site||Off the coast of Iranaitivu, Mannar District, Sri Lanka|
|Aircraft type||Antonov An-24RV|
|Flight origin||Kankesanturai Airport, Jaffna, Sri Lanka|
|Destination||Ratmalana Airport, Colombo, Sri Lanka|
Lionair Flight 602 was a Lionair Antonov An-24RV which fell into the sea off the north-western coast of Sri Lanka on 29 September 1998. The aircraft departed Jaffna Airport with 48 passengers and a crew of seven; it disappeared from radar screens ten minutes into the flight. Initial reports indicated that the plane had been shot down by Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam terrorists using MANPADS, which has since been confirmed. All aboard were presumed killed.
Aircraft and crew
The Antonov AN-24RV was leased from Belarusian company Gomelavia to operate flight 602. It was captained by Anatoli Matochko and had six other crew including a Sinhalese stewardess. There were 48 passengers, all Tamils, including 17 females and 8 children.
The aircraft went missing ten minutes after taking off from Jaffna Airport at 13:40 on 29 September 1998 on a scheduled flight to Colombo; all those aboard were presumed killed. The pilot reported depressurisation a short time before contact was lost. Following the downing of Flight LN 602 all civil aviation between Colombo and Jaffna was suspended for many months by the Sri Lanka Civil Aviation Authority.
Lionair, the main operator of Colombo-Jaffna flights, received a warning letter a month before the incident from the Tamil Eelam Administrative Service, stating that if the airline continued to ignore a prior warning about carrying Sri Lanka Armed Forces personnel, it would be attacked after 14 September. The airline closed its office in Jaffna four days before the incident.
In October 2012 the Sri Lankan Navy discovered wreckage which was believed to be the disintegrated parts of the missing Antonov on the sea bed off Iranaitivu Island. Information concerning the crash site was gained from a former LTTE cadre who had left Sri Lanka and was arrested on his return by the Police Terrorist Investigation department. He confessed to having fired a missile at the aircraft from the island on the orders of Poththu Amman, a leading member of the LTTE.
The Navy salvaged the first pieces of the wreckage in May 2013, nearly 15 years after the event. Clothing and remains from 22 victims recovered in the salvage operation were put on display in Jaffna for identification in January 2014.
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- Criminal Occurrence description at the Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved on 23 November 2006.
- Camelia Nathaniel (12 January 2014). "Remains Of Lion Air Victims Displayed". The Sunday Leader.
- "Shattered dreams behind Lion Air mystery". Sunday Times. 4 October 1998.
- Major General Ashok K. Mehta (4 April 2000). "More than ever, Eelam seems a reality now". India's Vietnam: The IPKF in Sri Lanka: 10 Years On. Rediff.
- "Sri Lanka Navy salvage wreckage of Lion Air". Ministry of Defense and Urban Development. 5 June 2013. Archived from the original on 23 October 2013. Retrieved 15 October 2013.
- Easwaran Rutnam (5 May 2013). "Lionair Flight 602 salvaged". Colombo Gazette.
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