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Cape Town -
Namibian authorities are investigating the cause of a plane crash in which a Cape Town film-maker and a pilot were killed while filming aerials for a documentary.
The plane carrying renowned film-maker Richard Matthews and Namibian pilot Mark Berry went down in the mountains near Kaokoland, northern Namibia, on Sunday.
Matthews had been filming aerials of the dry riverbeds for an international documentary.
His colleagues in South Africa lost contact with him earlier that day and he did not return to his lodge that evening. After being reported missing, an operation was launched to find the plane, but to no avail. It was eventually found by Flip Blaauw, head of the Namibian Police Air Wing, on Tuesday afternoon.
Namibian newspaper Die Republikein reported that Blaauw had found the aircraft wreckage about 15km northwest of Purros.
Blaauw told the newspaper he saw wheels of the aircraft and its wreckage on the slopes of the Rock Gardens while flying over the mountain area. Four helicopters had been dispatched to look for the pair. It was not clear what had happened but Blaauw said he suspected the aircraft may have had engine failure or did not have enough power to go over the mountains.
He told the Cape Times on Wednesday that the bodies had been taken to Opuwo in the Kunene region by police. They would probably be sent to Windhoek or South Africa to be identified, he said.
“When we found them they were still in their seats. The aircraft was burnt out. It was just black. I don’t know how they will identify the one from the other,” Blaauw said.
The Aircraft Accident Directorate was investigating the crash, he said.
Matthews co-owned Table Mountain Films with Katharina Pechel and Joe Kennedy, and was a member of television film production company Wild images.
According to the Wild images website, Matthews was a four-time Emmy awards winner who had been involved with film-making for 30 years. He had degrees in zoology and film, photography and television. “So sad to announce the tragic passing of a legend. Richard Matthews and pilot Mark Berry were involved in a plane crash on the afternoon of Sunday 03.03.2013 while filming in Namibia. Richard died doing what he loved. His memory will be cherished by those that were blessed enough to know him,” the company said on its Facebook page.
In a message on the Table Mountain Films Facebook page, Kennedy and Pechel said their thoughts were with Matthews’s widow, Samantha, and their two children, and Berry’s loved ones.
Cape Film Commission chief executive Denis Lillie said it was tragic to learn of Matthews’s death. He said Matthews had been a member of the commission.
“I got to know Richard extremely well during our time together at the International Emmys in New York last year. I found him to be a very warm, generous and humorous man. He had a passion for his work, especially the new aerial system he had recently developed, and he will be sadly missed.
“Our thoughts go out to his family, his wife Samantha and their two children, together with the family of Mark Berry.”