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Search called off for missing Air Services Limited plane

Captain Nicky Yakesh Persaud

Despite an intensive twenty one days of aerial and ground searches in mountainous and densely forested terrain in Region Eight for the Air Services Limited (ASL) Britten Norman Islander, the aircraft and its occupants have still not been found, the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) said Monday.

Following is the remainder of the GCAA’s statement:

8R-GHE disappeared on a routine shuttle operation Mahdia to Karisparu on 28th December 2014 with Captain Nicky Yakesh Persaud, 27 and cargo handler David Bisnauth, 51. 

After the aircraft was reported overdue, five aircraft conducted reconnaissance over the Mahdia, Kaietuer, Karisparu and Taffy areas following the most probable track that the aircraft would have flown.

Three helicopters were deployed followed by an ASL Cessna Caravan and eleven (11) GDF Special Forces Officers on that day.

The Rescue Coordination Centre was established and supported by the Honorable Minister Benn, Minister of Public Works, Maj. Mike Charles, Captain G. Gouveia along with several agencies including, GDF, Guyana Police Force, GGMC, CDC, Ministry of Health, Guyana Forestry Commission, Air Services Ltd, CJIAC, Civil Aviation Department – Suriname, CGX and the GCAA.

Information gathering and planning was done from this centre and coordinated for execution by the sub centre established at Mahdia.

During the last 21 days, extensive searches were conducted by three helicopters and two fixed winged aircraft from a base established at Mahdia, to locations identified as high probability areas determined as a result of sightings and more than twenty interviews with miners, villagers and relatives.

Over two hundred and thirty (230) hours were flown by the helicopters and fixed winged aircraft over the Blackwater Creek basin, North Fork, Konawaruk River, Ebini, Eagle, Mowasi, Glendor mountains, Kurungiku mountain range including “Toucan Face” “Twin Towers” and Toucan Valley. The helicopters conducted multiple sorties over the Blackwater Creek and North Fork areas including locations where damaged trees and crows were observed.

Ground searches complemented the aerial searches after day three (3) and intensified thereafter with seven ground search parties totaling forty seven (47) persons from the Guyana Forestry Commission, St. Cuthbert’s Mission, villagers from Mahdia and Chenapau, twenty (20) Special Forces Officers, family members of Captain Persaud and volunteers.

Approximately twenty insertions and extractions of ground search parties were done at nine landing areas to trek along the treacherous and densely forested terrain. Areas where potential images captured by the Canadian Twin Otter with capability of picking up large metallic objects were also combed. 

Later in the search, several attempts to pursue an additional lead from a camp owner were made by the Rescue Coordination Centre and the aircraft company, however, after over one week, the person failed to take officers to the location from which he said the aircraft was seen. Using this information, the GDF Special Forces Officers combed the mountainous area pinpointed, without success.

Over the last weekend another team including Captain Gouveia continued the search efforts, however, once again there was no sighting of the aircraft.

Over the past three weeks the search for the missing aircraft and its occupants engaged a varied and substantial number of resources, including, personnel, aircraft, specialized equipment among others and all leads have been exhausted without success.

As a result the Minister of Public Works in collaboration with the RCC has taken a decision to bring the operation to an end.

The Minister of Public Works and the GCAA empathize with the immediate family, relatives and friends of the missing persons, Captain Nicky Persaud and David Bisnauth in this time of distress.