In Papua New Guinea, the Bishop of Bereina has prayed for the four persons killed Sept. 20 when their aircraft, which was carrying supplies to a remote village, crashed. “It was our parish of Our Lady of Fatima in Woitape, Goilala district that chartered the flight to bring in much needed supplies from the capital,” Bishop Rochus Tatami, M.S.C., told the Catholic Reporter PNG shortly after the tragedy. “Those who died or were injured on the way back to Port Moresby were people from our Goilala villages.” The Catholic Reporter PNG wrote Sept. 22 that Bishop Tatamai “expressed his heartfelt condolences and prayers today for the victims of last Saturday’s Hevilift air crash.” The flight's two pilots, and a passenger, were killed in the crash some 30 miles from its destination of Port Moresby, the Papua New Guinean capital. The flight had originated in Woitape. A second passenger died in at a Port Moresby hospital the following day. Among those who died are Joseph Michael of Ononghe and Pio Mark of Kosipe. One of the pilots was Australian, and the rest of those on board were Papua New Guinea nationals. The five surviving passengers sustained minor injuries, and have been discharged from a hospital in Port Moresby. Among them were Fr. John Paul Aihi, 36, who was ordained in 2010. He told the Catholic Reporter PNG that “I was at the back of the 12-seat aircraft and as soon as we came out of the clouds, I saw the trees coming towards us. I spontaneously thought the pilot would immediately lift the plane; instead after a very few seconds we crashed.” Peter O'Neill, prime minister of Papua New Guinea, said in a statement that “'The thoughts of the nation are with the families of the four people who lost their lives, and we pray for the recovery of the five survivors.” The airline operating the chartered flight, Hevilift, told the Daily Mail Australia that the Australian was a “very experienced pilot,” and said “Hevilift's thoughts and sympathy go to the families of those who have died in the crash and the company will continue to provide every assistance to the survivors.” Investigators have yet to determine the exact cause of the crash. Papua New Guinea is a Pacific island nation, consisting of the eastern half of the island of New Guinea, as well as numerous other, smaller, islands; it is located north of Australia and east of Indonesia. A poorer nation, in 2013 its adjusted per capita GDP was estimated at $2,800. Dominated by its Highlands mountain range, the island of New Guinea has poor connectivity by roadways and is highly dependent on small aircraft transportation. It has witnessed some 20 plane crashes over the last decade.
Catholic News Agency was founded in 2004, in response to Pope St. John Paul II’s call for a “New Evangelization." It is an apostolate of EWTN News.