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CAL crew must stay put for questioning

Devant thankful no fatalities...

By Kim Boodram

TRANSPORT Minister Devant Maharaj said yesterday he remains convinced that a miracle was at work in the crash of Caribbean Airlines' Flight 523 in Guyana.

Maharaj was part of a ministerial team, led by Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, that toured the crash site at Cheddi Jagan International Airport.

On Saturday morning, Flight 523, which landed in bad weather, overshot the runway, broke through a chain fence on the airport's perimeter and broke into two as it ground to a halt just short of a 200-foot-deep ravine just outside the airport.

There were no fatalities among the 163 passengers onboard, which included the CAL crew.

"What I can say today after viewing the crash site in both daylight and during the night, is that it remains to me a virtual miracle that no one died," Maharaj said yesterday, shortly after his return to Trinidad.

"We remain thankful for that. Also, Caribbean Airlines' track record remains clean."

The airline yesterday sought to reassure future passengers that while there will be delays in other flights in the near future, CAL is working to minimise the inconvenience.

Flight times and patterns were yesterday updated on the CAL website, while the website has also provided hotline numbers for enquiries related to Flight 523.

Trinidad and Tobago customers may call in at 1-868-669-2902, customers in the United States, 1-800-786-3891, in Canada, 1-800-380-6057, in the Caribbean, 1-800-744-6453 and Guyana, 592-225-0003.

Communications Specialist for CAL Laura Asbjornsen said yesterday, the airline's newest Boeing 737, which was commissioned at the Piarco International Airport last Thursday, should be in the air today in an effort to plug vacancies in the schedules left by Flight 523.

The airline will continue with frequent postings on its website, www.Caribbean_Airlines.com, to keep customers and their families updated.

The crew will not be allowed to leave Guyana until investigators have questioned them on the events of Saturday morning.

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