ROSEAU, Dominica, May 22, CMC – Search and rescue teams were resuming their search Tuesday for the wreckage of a privately owned French air ambulance that reportedly crashed into the sea off Dominica’s east coast on Monday night.
But general manager of the Dominica Air and Seaports Authority (DASA), Benoit Bardouille, speaking on the state-owned DBS radio, said an initial search of the area where the plane is reported to have gone down, has so far proved fruitless.
“We have no reports of anything being found. Once the reports were made, we triggered our response systems, we notified the French authorities and our local Coast Guard responded along with the Fire Service and searches were carried out up to very late last night and nothing was found,” Bardouille said.
He said that while another search of the area was being carried out on Tuesday “at this time we have nothing to report”.
Witnesses said a plane went down in the waters off the island’s east coast Amerindian community, the Carib Territory in Salybia, near the island’s main airport, Melville Hall.
Police were called to the area of the Carib model village, Barana Aute, where witnesses claimed to have seen a huge ball of fire spiralling into the sea nearby around around 8.15 p.m. (local time).
But airport officials reportedly said there were not expecting the aircraft and it had not departed from the airport. Authorities in the neighbouring French departments of Guadeloupe and Martinique had not reported any planes missing during radar surveillance.
Some reports indicated all on board perished as the aircraft caught fire but this could not be independently confirmed.
Bardouille told radio listeners that the search and rescue teams would comb the entire area “to do what we were not able to do late last night would be done again.
“In terms of the official traffic coming into Dominica last night, all traffic had been accounted for and up to this point we have nothing missing and that’s the situation at this point in time.
“I would say we take everything seriously and once we get notice of anything we trigger our system and we take nothing for granted,” Bardouille said, adding “again we are very thankful to the French for responding very quickly”.