Wed, Jun 06, 2007
Action In Response To Weekend Accident No Lift Date Set
Sierra Leone President Ahmed Tejan Kabbah has grounded all
commercial helicopters and suspended the country's transport
minister after a Russian-made Mi-8 helicopter caught fire on its
descent for landing Sunday night, killing 22 people in the West
African country's capital of Freetown.
The helicopter was taking a group of soccer fans from the small
West African country of Togo -- as well as the Togolese Minister
for Youth and Sports Richard Attipoe -- to the Lungi International
Airport when it went down.
Kabbah declared three days of mourning and promptly grounded all
commercial helicopters including those commuters use to get across
a bay to Freetown. The only other alternative is by sea ferry.
No potential lift date for the suspension has been announced.
The Togonese government dispatched a six-person delegate to assist
with the investigation.
Sierra Leone's Information Minister Septimus Kaikai vowed his
government will "take a serious look at these commercial helicopter
companies to make sure that the public is given adequate
According to the Associated Press, several Togolese called for
an investigation after a Togolese soccer official in Lome, the
capital of Togo, claimed to have received a text message from
someone aboard the flight saying they had received death threats
from other soccer fans in Freetown.
Fédération Internationale de Football Association
(FIFA) President Sepp Blatter said he was "deeply saddened" by the
"Our pain at these losses is all the greater given that they
both occurred only a few days after we had come together for the
57th FIFA Congress in Zurich," he said.
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