Durban - All six crew members and five passengers aboard the C-47 Dakota aircraft that crashed in the Drakensberg have died, the SA National Defence Force has said.
The SANDF confirmed in a statement on Thursday afternoon that no survivors where found in the wreckage found earlier.
Head of communications Siphiwe Dlamini said that the bodies of the 11 passengers and crew belonging to the South African Air Force (SAAF) were found in Giants Castle within the Drakensberg mountain range in KwaZulu-Natal.
Earlier, the SANDF dismissed information that the victims were part of a medical team who were on a routine visit to former president Nelson Mandela’s home in Qunu in the Eastern Cape.
Dlamini said the flight departed from Air Force Base Waterkloof in Pretoria at about 7.45am on Wednesday, destined for Mthatha Airport.
It is believed that a search and rescue mission was launched at about 9.45am, after the craft was expected to land and there had been no communication from the pilot.
Dlamini said severe weather conditions, which included reports of heavy mist and rain, had hindered the continuation of the search and rescue effort.
The bad weather may also have played a role in the crash, according to reports.
“At first light this morning (Thursday) the rescue team continued their effort and located the wreckage. On board the aircraft was a crew of six and five passengers and it was confirmed that there are no survivors,” Dlamini said.
“The SANDF has commenced with the process of informing the next of kin of the deceased members. The names of the deceased will be released when all the next of kin have been informed.
“The Minister of Defence and Military Veterans Hon Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, the Chief of the SANDF General Solly Shoke, and the Chief of the Air Force Lt Gen Zimpande Msimang would like to convey their sincere and deepest condolences to the families and loved ones of the deceased,” Dlamini said.
Meanwhile, investigations into the cause of the crash are expected to begin. - IOL