Crash remains handed over

National, Normal


HUMAN remains including teeth and parts of a skull are believed to among the body parts retrieved and handed over to Australian deputy high commissioner John Feakes when he flew over to the Tobabe crash site near Hagutava village at Kokoda on Oct 9.
This was revealed to The National by Hagutava landowner and liaison representative Timothy Dadi last Friday, when showing their claim of K500,000 for the destruction and damage caused to their environment by the Airlines PNG plane crash on Aug 11.
He said the landowners had gone to the Australian High Commission office in Port Moresby and were in a meeting with the third secretary, Simon Fellows, when Mr Feakes had already gone with a PNG police team to their village at Hagutava to collect the human remains.
Mr Dadi said people back in the village had an argument with the Australian deputy high commissioner because they did not want to hand over the remains but later agreed and handed them over.
He said one of his cousins from the village, Ian Ovevi, told him that the villagers had agreed to let Mr Feakes and the police team take the remains, but if their demand of K500,000 was not met as stated in their letter dated Oct 6, they would take action.
“We hand-delivered the letters to Airlines PNG and the Australian High Commission and all the others we have posted through the mail to the Minister for Civil Aviation, Minister for Environment and Conservation, Sohe MP Anthony Nene and the Oro provincial administrator,” he said.
Mr Dadi said he went to follow up on the claim last Thursday at the Airlines PNG office but was told that general manager Allan Tyson was out of the country.
He was then referred by a woman in charge of charter flights with Airlines PNG to Steven O’Brian Lawyers.
“I tried getting in touch with the lawyers on the contact numbers they gave but to no avail.
“But I will not stop till our demands are met,” Mr Dadi said.
They claimed that their land and water had been contaminated by the crash, which also damaged their hunting and garden sites.
Mr Dadi claimed that relatives of those who lost their lives in the Aug 11 crash had been compensated and they should also be compensated as well as the rightful landowners of the crash site.
He said failure to comply with their demands would result in the Australian transport safety bureau (ATSB), Civil Aviation Authority and Airlines PNG officials not being allowed to remove the remaining parts of the aircraft at the crash site; trekking companies and relatives of the deceased will not be allowed to enter for site visits or other activities and also future flights by Airlines PNG into Kokoda will be disrupted by landowners.
“They must settle these demands by the end of this years,’ Mr Dadi said.
Meanwhile, a spokesman for Steven O’Brian Lawyers said nothing had been sent to them by Airlines PNG regarding the landowners’ demands, and they could not comment further.
However, he said the Hagutava landowners should come forward to them in writing with their particulars instead of making a big fuss in the media of their demand.