Lionair Flight 602 salvaged

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The wreckage of Lionair Flight 602 has been salvaged off Iranaitivu by the Navy, 15 years after it went missing.

Following investigations launched by the police Terrorist Investigations Department, parts of the wreckage including engine parts and the wheels of the plane were salvaged.

“We pulled out several parts yesterday (Saturday) and by this evening we hope to remove the rest,” Navy spokesman Kosala Warnakulasuriya told the Colombo Gazette.

The wreckage of the passenger flight, believed to have been shot down by the LTTE in September 1998, killing 48 passengers and 7 crew members, had been found last October.

Based on information provided by an LTTE cadre in police custody, a Navy diving team located the wreckage on the sea bed off Iranativu Island.

The passenger plane went missing soon after takeoff from Jaffna on 29 September 1998 and was not found since.

The suspect in custody had identified the person who ordered the aircraft shot down as one Gadafi, a close associate of LTTE leader Velupillai Prabhakaran. Gadafi was killed during the final phase of fighting on the Vanni east front in early 2009.

Several attempts to salvage the wreckage since last October had failed as a result of poor weather.

But this weekend Navy divers managed to bring to the surface some of the parts which will now be sent for investigations. (Colombo Gazette)

Report by Easwaran Rutnam