On Thursday, a C-130 Hercules air tanker owned by Canada encountered a crash while combating with bushfires in Australia’s alpine region. All three of its crew died in the crash, authorities said.
Three crew members died
All three crew members were residents of American, according to Australian authorities, adding to that they said the reason for the crash was not immediately known (it was carrying loads of fire hydrant). “Tragically, there appear to be no survivors as a result of the crash down in the Snowy Monaro area,” said Shane Fitzsimmons, the Rural Fire Services Commissioner for New South Wales state.
“The tanker impacted heavily with the ground and initial reports are that there was a large fireball associated with the impact of the plane as it hit the ground. There is no indication at this stage of what’s caused the accident.”
A spokesman for Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority said that the aircraft flew into a valley to drop the hydrant and didn’t come out. Fitzsimmons claimed the plane had been leased by an aerial firefighting company Coulson Aviation situated in Canada, which had a second C-130 Hercules operating in the Australian bushfires.
Coulson had grounded its large air tanker fleet after the incident, due to pending review to make sure there was no issue in the system such as fuel problem.
Investigation in the matter will happen
The Australian Transport Safety Bureau stated it was dispatching a team of investigators to the crash site to gather evidence and would study the available recorded data, conduct a review on weather information and interview any witnesses. The Bureau said that they will release a preliminary report in about 30 days. However, if a critical safety issue was spotted during the process of the investigation it would promptly notify the related stakeholders.
Coulson said the plane was doing a firebombing mission and was having a load of retardant. The company said it is going to send a team to the crash site to reinforce the emergency operations.
“The accident is reported to be extensive and we are deeply saddened to confirm there were three fatalities,” the company expressed in a brief emailed statement.
The Flight Data
Previously the Authorities had claimed the tanker was flying in the Snowy Monaro region, south of Canberra. Flightradar24, a flight-tracking website showed the path of the flight (of an air tanker) used in waterbombing missions suddenly stopping in Peak View, south of Canberra.
According to the flight data, the aircraft took off the Richmond air force base situated in western Sydney around 12:15 p.m. (0115 GMT). It vanished from the radar just after 2 p.m. According to the fire service, Peak View is very close to a fire burning uncontrollably in the Wadbilliga National Park.
Typically, such air tankers can carry 15,000 liters of water or fire retardant that is used to be released over fires, which aids in containing fires in areas ground crews find hard to reach.
A receptionist at the Bredbo Inn Hotel, Belinda Greene, said she heard police cars moving in the early afternoon. Reuters reported, “We saw a lot of smoke all of a sudden a couple of hours ago,” she said.
Authorities have shut down the airport in Canberra, as two fires of emergency-level have merged into a single out-of-control fire nearby.
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