Chief of the Lithuanian Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre, Commander Artūras Andrušaitis, said on Friday that the An-2 airplane that crashed into the Baltic Sea may have not had all the necessary rescue equipment aboard.
Artūras Andrušaitis
© DELFI (E.Samoškaitės nuotr.)

The head of the Swedish airport who escorted the Lithuanian crew disagrees with the statements, saying that the aircraft had a life raft and life vests.

Andrušaitis told journalists on Friday that rescuers did everything in their capacity to find the Lithuanian pilots last Saturday.

"In the initial five hours, (there were) five airplanes. Had the people been on the surface with life vests, which are bright orange-coloured life vests, they would have definitely been (spotted). They said they had a life raft. Nobody can confirm this until we check if it exists. An inflated life raft that works automatically some 10m below water was never found. I believe Lithuania did everything it could to help these people, had they managed to get out or jump out of the airplane," he said at the government's meeting.

"Yes, my assumption is that there may have been no raft. The preliminary information is that the crew did have life vests, survival suits and a raft. It turned out in the course of the operation that there were no survival suits aboard the airplane, although the information from both parts was that they were there (...). During communication with the director of the airline, we started to check whether they were there. The answer was negative. When it comes to the raft, we can only guess and assume," said the commander.

Kjell Brattfors, the head of the Kattleberg airport in Gothenburg who was the last person to see the Lithuanian pilots, said that they had all the necessary rescue gear.

"They had one boat and two life saving costumes in the aircraft. With these you can stay in water for about five, six hours," Brattfors told BNS in a telephone interview from Sweden.

The An-2 with two highly experienced pilots went missing above the Baltic Sea last Saturday en route from Gothenburg to Klaipėda. On Saturday, it was discovered on the Baltic seafloor. Further examination on Thursday revealed a body of one pilot inside the aircraft.

On Friday, the Lithuanian government decided to lift the airplane to the surface. Several commissions have opened probes into the incident and the rescue operation.

BNS
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