Aviation News

February 9, 2011

Nine People Killed in South African Plane Crash

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The chief executive officer (CEO) of a South African retailer was killed in a plane crash in the Western Cape Province late Tuesday afternoon, officials said on Wednesday. Eight others were also killed.

The South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) said the accident involving a Pilatus PC-12 happened between 3 and 4 p.m. local time on Tuesday near Plettenberg Bay Airport, the primary town of the Bitou Local Municipality in the Western Cape Province. The aircraft had just taken off from Queenstown Aerodrome at 3 p.m. and was destined to land at Plettenberg Bay Airport just after 4 p.m.

According to the SACAA, the aircraft went off the radar after being handed over to the Cape Town Radar Control and approximately 3.1 miles (5 km) from Plettenberg Bay Airport. The South African Search and Rescue (SASAR) launched a search and rescue operation when they became aware that the aircraft had not reached its destination.

On Wednesday morning, the search and rescue team found the debris of the missing aircraft off shore of the Robberg Nature Reserve. The remains of some of the nine people on board have since been recovered.

While other sources confirmed there were no survivors at the scene, Acting Director of Civil Aviation Zakhele Thwala remained optimistic. “We will thoroughly apply our minds so that we can close this investigation as soon as possible. We would also like to acknowledge the role played by the rescue team and encourage them to keep on searching for possible survivors,” he said.

According to Italtile’s board of directors, the group’s CEO Gian-Paolo Ravazzotti Ravazzotti – who joined the company in 2000 – and eight of his colleagues and business partners died as a result of the crash. “On behalf of the Board, I express my heartfelt sympathy and condolences to the Chairman of the Group, Mr Gianni Ravazzotti, his wife Annabel and their daughters and Gianpaolo’s wife, Vanessa and their children, as well as the families of all of the deceased,” said Peter Swatton, the company’s chief financial officer.

In wake of the CEO’s death, Italtile shares fell by 2.38 percent on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange on Wednesday. The company’s shares had been steadily rising in recent months.