The National,Friday July 13th, 2012
By CLEMENT KAUPA
THE first clue to the whereabouts of the missing Hevilift Bell 206 helicopter surfaced early yesterday when a Purari River villager in Gulf province produced pieces of plastic that have been positively identified to be from the aircraft.Hevilift spokesman Ian McBeath said last night the pieces of plastic were clearly from a ‘flyaway kit’ that was usually kept in a booth of helicopters operated by the company.
“It is obvious that it is part of the missing helicopter as it is consistent with the size and shape of the container we use for the kit and it has what we believe to be the outline of a ‘H’ in blue paint,” he said.
McBeath said that was consistent with their registration of HCY printed on each container.
“The search effort was rapidly redeployed following this development,” he said.
“Regrettably, these broken pieces of container would most likely indicate that there has been a hard landing and the aircraft has broken up.“But finding these pieces means the search area has narrowed significantly.”
McBeath said there was still a large section of the countryside to cover because they were been advised there had been heavy rain in the area during the night, which most likely flushed the items out of the bush and into one of the dozens of rivulets that run into the Gipi creek that pours into the Purari.
“We now know that the area where we have been searching was the correct one and we can concentrate the ground search teams upstream of the location where the debris was found, five miles from Bawata,” McBeath said.The reported locality is within the area predicted by this newspaper yesterday as the most probable location where the Bell 206 might have gone down.
Australians Russel Aitken and Emmett Flynn and their New Zealand counterpart Antony Annan remain missing after transmitting a mayday call at 3.25pm last Friday, five minutes after taking off from oil rig facility Triceratops-2 in Gulf province.