Lionair Flight 602

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Coordinates: 8°58′N 79°53′E / 8.967°N 79.883°E / 8.967; 79.883

Lionair Flight 602
Gomelavia Antonov An-24RV Dvurekov-1.jpg
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
Operator Lionair
Registration EW-46465
Flight origin Kankesanturai Airport, Jaffna, Sri Lanka
Destination Ratmalana Airport, Colombo, Sri Lanka
Passengers 48
Crew 7
Fatalities 55
Survivors 0

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 Kankesanturai Airport with 48 passengers including 17 females and eight children who were all Tamils with a crew of seven which included four Russians and a Sinhalese air hostess; disappeared from radar screens ten minutes into the flight.[1][2] 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 7 crew and 48 passengers were presumed killed.[3] Following the downing of Flight LN 602 all civil aviation between Colombo and Jaffna was suspended for many months by the Civil Aviation Authority.[4]

Aircraft and crew[edit]

The Antonov AN-24 was leased from Gomelavia to operate flight 602, captained by highly experienced Belarusian pilot Matochko Anatoli. The aircraft went missing exactly ten minutes after take off from Jaffna Airport. The Belarusian crew consisted of Lysaivanov Siarhei (co-pilot), Kozlov Sergei (navigator) and Anapryienka Siarhei (flight engineer). The Lion Air cabin crew were Dharshini Gunasekera (chief stewardess) and Chrishan Nelson (steward) and Vijitha (labourer).[3]

Pre-crash warnings[edit]

Lionair which was the main operator of Colombo-Jaffna flights received a warning letter a month before the incident. The letter was from the Tamil Eelam Administrative Service which warned the Airline earlier for carrying military personnel and if it continued to ignore the warning, it would be attacked after 14 September. It was rejected by the company, but airline office in Jaffna was closed four days before the incident.[2]


On October 2012 the wreckage of a plane which believed to be the disintegrated parts of the missing Antonov were discovered on the sea bed off the Iranativu Island in the northern sea by the Sri Lankan Navy. The information on the crash site was gained from a former LTTE cadre how had left the Sri Lanka and was arrested on his return by the Police Terrorist Investigation department (TID). He had confessed to have been the person who fired a missile at the aircraft from Iranathivu island on the orders of Poththu Amman a leading member of the LTTE.[1][5]

In May 2013, the first pieces of wreckage from the aircraft were salvaged by the Sri Lankan Navy, nearly 15 years after the event. Among the identifiable debris were the aircraft's engines, parts of the fuselage, a landing gear wheel, a female ID and even a dental piece from a jaw.[6] Remains of 20 victims recovered in the salvage operation by the navy was put on display in Jaffna for identification in January 2014.[1]

See also[edit]