Three people were killed and two seriously injured yesterday morning when a South African Air Force (SAAF) Cessna 208 Caravan crashed near Lydenburg in Mpumalanga.
The aircraft, from 41 Squadron, was one of five Cessna 208Bs deployed to Nelspruit Airport for a training camp. Around 100 personnel were deployed to the area for a two-week Operations Training Camp.
The pilot, co-pilot and a passenger were killed in the crash while the other two people on board were seriously injured and were airlifted to hospital in Nelspruit. The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) said their condition is serious but stable. The bodies of those who died had to be cut out of the wreckage.
Brigadier General Xolani Mabanga, Defence Corporate Communication director, said a preliminary investigation has been convened and will be followed by a board of enquiry, to determine the cause of the accident. Apparently the weather was fine at the time of the crash, which occurred in the Misty Mountains near Long Tom pass.
Defence minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula said she was saddened to learn of the crash and that her heartfelt condolences are going out to the families of the deceased service members. President Jacob Zuma acknowledged the loss of life in his State of the Nation Address last night.
The names of the deceased will be released as soon as next of kin have been informed, the SANDF said.
The SAAF has suffered a number of crashes in the last couple of years. All eleven people on board a C-47TP Turbo Dakota died when their aircraft crashed in the Drakensberg mountains in December 2012 and all five people aboard an A109 Light Utility Helicopter died when their aircraft crashed in the Kruger National Park in March last year.
The SAAF received 13 Caravans from1988.