Salone News

Helicopter Crash: Togolese Pathologist Heads for Freetown

5 June 2007 at 19:14 | 909 views

By Jonathan Leigh in Freetown.

Events seem to be moving fast since the tragedy on
Sunday night at the Freetown international airport in
which a helicopter crashed killing 21 including 18
Togolese who were part of a delegation for an African
Nations Cup qualifier.

On Monday morning, a four man delegation made up of
the Togolese Ministers of Health, Presidential Affairs
and Information respectively, and the President of
that country’s National Olympic Committee arrived in
Freetown to take home the rest of the

Before their departure, Vice President Solomon Berewa
visited them at their hotel to express government
sympathy. Later in the day, a press statement from his
office ordered the suspension of all commercial
helicopter operations within the country with
immediate effect.

Also Sierra Leone’s Sports Minister, Dr. Dennis Bright
disclosed the setting up of an inquiry to investigate
the cause of the accident.

It was further disclosed that a pathologist from Togo
is to arrive in Freetown to carry out post mortem
examination on the victims whose remains are currently
at the Connaught Hospital Mortuary, a place overwhelmed on
Monday morning with sombre looking symphatisers.

The helicopter belonging to Paramount Airlines was
supposed to do three shuttle flights between Freetown
and the airport, across the Atlantic ocean, ferrying
the 70-man Togolese delegation who arrived here on a
chartered flight on Saturday for the match which they
won 1-0.

The first shuttle was successful, but the second was
tragic. Amongst the dead were the Togolese Sports
Minister,Richard Attipoe (photo), his Adviser, three typists and a driver of the
Football Federation, a female journalist, the son of a
member of the FA Executive, an Accountant at the FA, a
Security Committee member, four stewards of AVIREX
(the flight chartered by the Togolese), the wife of
and the FA Treasurer. The Treasurer himself was left
behind waiting for the third and final shuttle that was to
have ferried the players to the airport. One of the
two Russian pilots survived but is said to be in a critical
condition in hospital.

Away from the tragedy, Sierra Leone remains buried at
the bottom of Group 9 as a result of that defeat with
a single point, which means qualifying hopes are now
finally extinguished. Togo are top of the Group with
nine points closely followed by Mali and Benin
Republic. All the teams have two more matches to play.

Photo credit: BBC Sports.