December 11, 2013
Authorities locate Flight 5428's black box at the crash site
As more details of the tragic accident continue to come to light, authorities in the Los Menucos Police Station confirmed that they had managed to locate Sol Flight 5428’s Black box in the field where the aircraft crashed last night, in the Río Negro province. In the evening, the Aeronautics Security Police (PSA) announced they would stop combing the area and would resume their search in the morning, since it's impossible to do so in the dark.
Police Chief Juan Ramón Fernández stated that the black box was found in the wreckage. Also, the remains of the 22 people who perished in the crash are being moved from the Los Menucos morgue to Bariloche. The remains will then be taken to Buenos Aires.
The case is in the hands of Bariloche Federal Judge Leónidas Moldes, who instructed the PSA, the Civil Defence personnel, the provincial police and the firemen to continue combing the area.
Fernández also explained that relatives of the victims would not be able to approach the crash site due to the lack of sunlight. Earlier, the Los Menucos City Hall had confirmed that several family members had already arrived in town and were being assisted by a psychologist.
Twenty-two people were killed after a small Sol Airlines passenger plane crashed in the Rio Negro province, close to the Prahuaniyeu area, 500km from Bariloche. The aircraft was flying from Neuquén to Comodoro Rivadavia. Search and Rescue teams managed to locate the wreckage, and described the scene as “total destruction.” There are no survivors.
Eighteen adults passengers, one minor and three cabin crew members were aboard the plane, which according to official sources, had run into some extremely severe weather which caused it to plummet to the ground.
“Unfortunately we can confirm that there are no survivors,” confirmed Ismael Alí, director of the local hospital in Los Menucos, the area from which rescue teams were brought from to work at the site of the fatal crash.
When asked about the scene of the crash, he commented that charred remains of the aircraft were strewn around the crash site. "Everything was destroyed, burned, in pieces."
The airline issued a brief statement, explaining that Flight 5428 had made its final contact with ground control at around 8:50PM, alerting that there was an emergency. The plane had left Neuquén at 8:08 pm and had enough fuel to last for three and a half hours; the flight journey had been estimated at one and a half hours.
Authorities from the airline company confirmed that the pilot managed to send a distress signal before losing control of the aircraft.
The flight SOL 5428 covered the route Córdoba- Mendoza- Neuquén- Comodoro Rivadavia had taken off from Neuquén to complete the last part of its journey, to Comodoro Rivadavia, its final destination.
A witness who was driving along a road in the area at the time of the crash, reported what had looked like a “ball of fire falling from the sky,” to local Los Menucos police.
"The airline has followed all necessary protocols for these kinds of situations and has contacted all airports and alternative airports involved, as well as the Air Traffic Control Centre and the Secretariat of Transportation," the press release read, adding that it would not be releasing any further details for the moment.
The plane was a Saab 340 turboprop, which can hold 30 to 36 people. It went down near the small village of Prahuaniyeu in the Rio Negro province, in a remote area with few roads.
The airline has offered an exclusive emergency phone number for family members: 0810-122-7765.