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Home World News Washington Post World News Haiti grounded private flights during fatal crash investigation

Haiti grounded private flights during fatal crash investigation

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SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – Haiti’s National Civil Aviation Office announced Thursday that it is banning all private jets from flying during an investigation into the crash of a small plane that killed at least five people and injured several others.

Authorities have not said when private flights may resume, adding that the measure is part of a private operator assessment.

The announcement was made a day after a Cessna 207 crashed into a truck carrying soft drinks in the busy capital of Port-au-Prince. A police officer told The Associated Press that five people died in the collision, including the truck driver.

“I heard a big bang,” said Jean Felix Surin, a farmer who ran from his house to the scene of the accident. “Everyone was in shock.”

Someone in the crowd said one of the victims asked for help while still on the ground, but died shortly after. Hours later, firefighters used hoses to clear the area.

Paule Robitaille, a Canadian politician, tweeted that one of the victims was Gamaniel Valcin and called on the Canadian government to help repatriate his body.

Haitian newspaper Le Nouvelliste reported that the pilot died after being taken to a hospital.

The pilot was identified as Amado Gutiérrez from the Dominican Republic and wore a badge from a Dominican flying school called Enalas. A school secretary said no one was immediately available for comment.

Officials said the plane was en route to the southern coastal town of Jacmel and crashed shortly after takeoff from Port-au-Prince.

The crash comes four months after Haiti’s civil aviation security department issued a warning that several private operators it had not identified had broken the rules, including operating commercial flights without the required permit.

Last July, another small plane also bound for Jacmel crashed near the capital, killing six people, including two American missionaries.

In recent months, some people have chosen to fly from the capital to Haiti’s southern region to avoid driving through gang-controlled areas where a spike in kidnappings and murders has been observed.

Sanon reported from Port-au-Prince, Haiti. AP videographer Pierre-Richard Luxama in Port-au-Prince contributed to this report.



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