PNG helicopter pieces found



Searchers combing the Papua New Guinea jungle for the wreckage of a helicopter with a New Zealand pilot aboard say a villager has found pieces of the wrecked chopper.

The villager was searching the water ways and rivers when he found some pieces of plastic that were clearly from a "fly away kit" usually kept in Hevilift helicopters, the company said on Thursday.

New Zealander Antony Annan, 49, and Australians Russell Aitken, 42, and licensed aircraft maintenance engineer Emmett Fynn, 36, were on board a Bell 206 chopper that went missing near Mt Hagen in the PNG highlands last Friday.

"It is obvious that it is part of the missing helicopter as it is consistent with the size and shape of the container we use for the kit and it has what we believe to be the outline of an 'H' in blue paint," said Hevilift's Ian McBeath.

The villager was able to show searchers where he found the kit.

Another villager then flagged down the search helicopter, about 1km upstream, after finding another piece of the same plastic container.

"Regrettably these broken pieces of container would most likely indicate that there has been a hard landing and the aircraft has broken up," Mr McBeath said.

However, it meant the search area was now significantly narrowed.

"We still have a large section of countryside to cover. We have been advised that there was very heavy rain in the area last night and this has most likely flushed these items out of the bush and into one of the dozens of rivulets which run into the Gipi Creek which runs into the Purari River."

Hevilift is being helped in the search by Australian Defence Force helicopters.

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