Posted at 8:00 am
(Carrefour, Haiti) Flights between Port-au-Prince and Jacmel, a small town on Haiti’s southern coast, have become more frequent in the last year. Why ? Because the national road at the southwestern exit of the Haitian capital is partially blocked by armed groups, who often blackmail or kidnap passers-by.
Alternative routes, including dirt roads in the mountains, are proliferating. But those who can afford it prefer the plane as these roads are difficult to navigate.
On Wednesday, a small plane crashed minutes after taking off from Port-au-Prince airport en route to Jacmel. The crash happened around 3:35 p.m. in the southwestern suburbs of the capital, in the city of Carrefour, killing the Dominican pilot and four passengers, including Gamaniel Valcin, a Quebecer. At least one other person died on the ground when the plane made an emergency landing on National Road NoOh 2.
The injured pilot had to be transported by motorcycle on one of these difficult roads – especially in rainy weather – before reaching the capital. “I was trying to save the pilot, he was completely off balance,” Divisional Inspector Yves Beaudry said yesterday in the office of the Carrefour police station, which overlooks the street corner where the plane crashed.
If he hadn’t hit the truck, he might have landed.
Yves Beaudry, Inspector at the Carrefour Police Station office
The plane initially circled at low altitude over the area, local witnesses said. It then attempted to land on the street, but one of its wings struck a lamppost. The wing ripped off and the rest of the plane then hit the front of one pick up and a truck that overturned with its load of soft drinks. The plane ended its route in the middle of a normally busy intersection.
“The four passengers were killed instantly,” said the police officer. He assisted the then conscious pilot before being transported to a hospital in the capital, where he died. A motorbike taxi driver passing by was also killed by the plane’s impact.
“When the plane crashed, it rolled over me,” said 26-year-old phone repairman Kendy Parfait, looking dejected. “I ran away. The phone stand he was sitting in front of at the time of the accident was completely destroyed by the device’s tail. “I was in shock for 15 minutes,” he said The press.
Nearby, a mango and pie seller says she sprained her ankle while trying to escape. She was sitting at her table yesterday with her right leg raised.
“The pilot was right in front of me, we immediately called for help,” said Gladis Joseph, 40, a mother of four.
“The plane has become a must between Port-au-Prince and the entire south of the country,” said Tania Laviades, a Canadian midwife who has lived in Jacmel for several years. His maternal family is of Haitian origin.
The road from Martissant to Port-au-Prince is impassable due to armed gangs.
“So more and more people who could afford to fly started,” says Dr.me Laviades, during a phone interview. A company has been offering scheduled flights twice a week for several months. And some owners of small private planes sometimes rent them out to groups. »
The private plane that crashed on Wednesday belonged to the son of Jacmel’s most prominent businessman, Nicolas Khawly, according to Haitian media. The plane was not licensed for commercial flights, Radio-Télé Métropole, a Port-au-Prince-based media outlet, announced on Thursday.
According to US media, Haitian civil aviation authorities have banned all private planes from flying in Haiti while they finalize an investigation into Wednesday’s crash.
“If the road wasn’t blocked, this accident wouldn’t have happened,” said Kendy Parfait, looking at the empty space where his small street shop and dozens of phones stood. “I’m frustrated,” he said. I lost everything. I have no family to help me. I lost everything I had. »