By Farai Kuvirimirwa
Two Air Force of Zimbabwe officers died yesterday afternoon when a training aircraft they were flying plunged into a squatter settlement next to Charles Prince Airport in Harare.
The two AFZ officers were flying an SF260 trainer aircraft when it nosedived at around noon into Willdale settlement in Mt Hampden, killing them on the spot.
No one on the ground was injured, but unconfirmed reports say some structures were destroyed.
AFZ spokesperson, Squadron Leader Simon Matingwina, confirmed the accident.
“The names of the deceased are being withheld and will be announced after their next of kin have been advised,” he said.
AFZ commander, Air Marshal Perrance Shiri, said the news of the accident and death had been received with shock and deepest sorrow.
“We are deeply saddened by the aircraft accident, which has claimed the lives of our officers. We extend our deepest condolences to the families of the courageous officers who died in the line of duty,” he said.
Air Marshal Shiri said the cause of the accident would be determined after aircraft accident investigations had been conducted.
He said details of the funerals would be announced in due course.
An AFZ recovery truck arrived and the wreckage of the red and white plane was taken away before journalists were ordered to vacate the area by one Civil Aviation Authority officer identified as Willard Makanha.
Police detectives and senior Air Force of Zimbabwe officers could be seen entering the area that was cordoned off with a yellow warning tape.
AFZ personnel could also be seen collecting the debris of the red and white plane.
Civilians were barred from entering the area including hundreds of residents from the informal settlement who were ordered to vacate the area and stood metres away from their shacks.
In an interview, one of the residents of Willdale, said she heard a loud bang when the plane crashed close to her residence.
“I had to rush and people were afraid to go and assist. In a few minutes the police arrived and the bodies of the deceased were taken away and we were ordered to vacate our houses,” he said. Chronicle