Ghanaian Missing In Helicopter Crash

The rescue vessel team. INSET: The body of Capt Jagud, the Chief Pilot, being removed from the sea

THE GHANA Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) has confirmed that a Ghanaian on board the oil-related venture helicopter that crashed into the sea around the West Cape Three Points in the Western Region last Thursday is still missing.

According to the GCAA, eight people, comprising two crew and six passengers, were on board the Ivorian registered helicopter when the accident occurred.

They included five Ghanaians, a Nigerian, a British and a French national.

The Civil Aviation authorities indicated that out of the eight, four survived, three died and one person was missing – believed to be a 28- year-old Ghanaian.

The deceased have been identified as Capt Jagud, a French national who was the chief pilot and Capt Omefili, a Nigeria who was the copilot.

The other person was Sambo, a Ghanaian. The mortal remains of the three have been retrieved and deposited at a private morgue at New Amanful in the Ahanta West District.

Meanwhile, the rescued victims are receiving treatment at the SOS Clinic in Takoradi, while one other survivor who was in critical co condition, had been flown to Accra.

The accident, according to officials of the GCAA, happened four nautical miles off the coast of Takoradi and about six kilometres from the Takoradi Airport Thursday afternoon.

DAILY GUIDE learnt that majority of the people on board the chopper were workers of Luk Oil Company, an oil service provider based in Takoradi.

The paper gathered that the helicopter, operating for the Volta River Authority, took off from Takoradi airport at exactly 12:59 GMT to one of the oil rigs and was expected to land at the rig at 13:10 GMT, but it was later reported that it had crashed.

Addressing a press conference at the Air Force Base in Takoradi yesterday, the Director-General of the GCAA, Commodore Kwame Mamphey (rtd), assured that his outfit, in collaboration with other stakeholders, would do all within their power to find the missing person.

He explained that in the industry, names of the deceased persons were not made known until their next of kins had been informed.

‘We will not give you names of the deceased persons because their next of kins have to be informed first, before the information is made public’, he told journalists.

He pointed out that even though parts of the aircraft had been found, it remained confidential where the wreckage had been deposited since it would aid in their investigations.

He commended the efforts of fishermen in the area who sacrificed and stormed the area to help in the rescue work when the accident happened on Thursday.

How It Happened
Albert Taylor, Director, Air Traffic Service of the GCAA, narrated what happened before the unfortunate incident occurred.

According to him, on that fateful day, Ghana Air Force Traffic Controllers at the Takoradi Airport, who handled the flight, coordinated and handed it over to the rig controllers at about 1:03 pm.

He said around 2:00 pm, the Takoradi Airport received a call enquiring about the whereabouts of the helicopter.

The Airport then reportedly contacted and alerted all agencies in what is called ‘uncertainty phase’.

Immediately, the Ghana Air Force, supported by other operators, joined in the ‘search.’

In the process, they located some wreckage and also found people floating and so together with the Ghana Navy, Tullow and Luk Oil operators, they were able to rescue some of the people and later some wreckage.

Bad Weather
Officials of the GCAA maintained that the cause of the accident was still not known and denied the perception that the helicopter crashed into the waters because of bad weather condition.

‘The accident was not because of bad weather in that even when it occurred, there were other helicopters that came around to help in the rescue mission,’ an official stressed.

Luk Oil Suspends Operation
The Public Relations Manager of Luk Oil, Rose Maltby, revealed that the company had temporarily suspended its flight operations to the Jubilee Fields.

Energy Ministry Reacts
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Energy and Petroleum and the Petroleum Commission confirmed that the helicopter flying under the name Black Hawk and operated by Volta River Aviation Ltd., crashed off the Ghana coast in waters approximately four nautical miles south of Takoradi.

The helicopter, on contract with LUKOIL Overseas Ghana Limited, was on a routine crew shuttle mission transporting personnel to the Jack Ryan rig, with eight persons aboard, when it was reported missing.

The helicopter, a statement from the Ministry said, had undertaken two successful rotations earlier.

It said a search and rescue mission was launched immediately with support from the Ghana Navy, Ghana Air Force and other operators in the area. ‘Survivors have been transported for medical attention to local hospitals. Three fatalities have been confirmed and an intensive search is underway to locate one person who remains missing’, the statement said.

LUKOIL Overseas Ghana is an International Oil Company operating in Ghana.

FROM Emmanuel Opoku, Takoradi

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