A cargo plane crashed into the Bay of Bengal near Sonadia island, about nine kilometres off Cox's Bazar coast, yesterday morning, killing three of its four crew members and injuring the other.
Bound for Jessore, the True Aviation Ltd aircraft carrying shrimp met with the accident around 9:45pm, just about 15 minutes after taking off from Cox's Bazar Airport, said police and airport authorities.
The accident claimed the lives of Flight Captain Gofret Morad, 45, Flight Engineer Andrew and Navigator Kaltona and injured Flight Officer Wazi Morout, 47.
All the four crew of the plane are Ukrainians, said Cox's Bazar police quoting the aviation authorities.
A press note of the Civil Aviation Authority, Bangladesh (CAAB) said the pilot declared an “emergency” soon after the plane took off from Cox's Bazar Airport. He sent a radio message that he would abort the flight and return to the airport.
Within moments, the aircraft lost communications with the Cox's Bazar tower. Later, debris of the plane was found in the Bay near Sonadia island, according to the press statement.
Seeing the plane crash into the sea, some local fishermen on trawlers rushed to the site and rescued Morad and Morout.
Bangladesh Navy, Bangladesh Coast Guard and Fire Service and Civil Defence later joined the rescue operation.
The two were taken to District Sadar Hospital in Cox's Bazar where doctors declared Morad dead.
As Morout's condition deteriorated, physicians around 4:30pm referred him to Chittagong Medical College Hospital, said hospital sources.
Bodies of Andrew and Kaltona were recovered from the Bay in the afternoon, said Ahsan Habib, Cox's Bazar contingent commander of Bangladesh Coast Guard.
Fisherman Nazrul Islam said, “I saw the aircraft circling over the Bay before it crashed.”
Sources said the plane was rented from Ukraine for carrying shrimp from Cox's Bazar to the southern part of Bangladesh.
True Aviation Ltd had the licence to operate the place in Bangladesh. However, its flight operations were managed by Sky Blue Aviation.
Awami League lawmaker Ashek Ullah Rafique (Cox's Bazar-2), one of the owners of Sky Blue Aviation, said they informed the navy, coast guard, fire service, police and local administration about the accident.
The CAAB has formed a committee to probe the accident.
CAAB Chairman Air Vice-Marshal M Sanaul Haque told The Daily Star that the pilot only once contacted the Cox's Bazar tower for making an emergency landing.
“We will try to talk to the injured crew to have some information about the accident,” he added.
Our correspondent in Cox's Bazar contributed to this report.