Cargo jet crash shocks Posten Norge

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Only small fragments remained of a cargo jet that crashed during the night while transporting mail for the Norwegian postal service Posten. Postal officials were expressing shock and sorrow Friday morning after news came that the crash killed the jet’s two cockpit crew members on board, and all its mail was lost.

“We are all very upset by this tragedy,” John Eckhoff, spokesman for Posten Norge, told state broadcaster NRK. Postal officials kept contact through the night with both the cargo jet’s operator, West Atlantic Sweden of Gothenburg, and rescue crews in both Norway and Sweden.

‘Powerful crash’
The latter could confirm Friday morning that remote crash site had been found shortly after 3am and there was no chance either the pilot or co-pilot could have survived. Only small fragments of the aircraft could be seen in the Swedish mountains of Gällivare.

“It was a powerful crash, right into the ground,” Daniel Lindblad, spokesman for the Swedish rescue service, told news bureau NTB. The pilot, age 42, was from Spain and the co-pilot, age 34, was from France.

“This is a serious and tragic accident,” Posten’s chief executive Dag Mejdell said at a press conference Friday morning. “We have the deepest sympathy for the families of those involved.” He said Posten had set up a crisis team and was working closely with officials at West Atlantic.

They were flying first-class mail (A-post), small packages and express mail from all over southeastern Norway to Northern Norway, on a route from Oslo to Tromsø. Posten Norge suspended another cargo flight that was scheduled to carry mail to Svalbard on Friday. “Its pilots were colleagues of the two who were on board the flight that crashed,” Eckhoff told NRK.

‘Mayday’ around midnight
The Swedish-registered SE-DUX aircraft, flight SWN 294, was a Canadair Bombardier CRJ-200 and it sent out a Mayday signal around midnight. The last radar images of the flight appeared when it was 120 kilometers northeast of Bodø but inside Swedish territory.

Two Norwegian F16 fighter jets were dispatched from the military air station in Bodø and they found the crash site, after which Swedish authorities took over the rescue operation. They determined that neither of the two on board could have survived, but they were attempting to send crews into the remote area located between Lake Akkajaure in Sweden and the Norwegian border.

There are no roads in the wilderness area, making the recovery operation difficult. “We’re working with getting crews into the area,” Maria Jakobssen of the Swedish police told Sveriges Radio. “There are no roads and it’s around 30-degrees below zero, so it’s problematic.”

The cause of the crash could not immediately be determined. The weather was cold but clear, with little wind, reported NRK. Flightradar 24 reported that the aircraft fell quickly, from an altitude of 33,000 feet to 11,725 feet in just 60 seconds. West Atlantic Sweden AB, which planned a midday press conference, is billed as one of the leading providers of air freight services and reported that the aircraft had been part of West Atlantic Sweden’s fleet since 2007.

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund