Lithuanian Minister of National Defence Juozas Olekas has apologised to families of the missing An-2 pilots for poorly coordinated search and rescue operation.
Juozas Olekas
© DELFI / Kiril Čachovskij

"On behalf of myself and the entire national defence system, I would like to extend apologies to families, friends, and colleague pilots for not doing everything in the way it should have been done so that nobody could have any doubts about the search and rescue operation," the minister said at the Lithuanian parliament.

According to Olekas, under the existing search and rescue operations plan, once an emergency signal comes in, one helicopter and one vessel are sent out immediately, while in the meantime additional measures are being prepared. The last time the plan was changed was back in 2009.

"Unfortunately, it should be noted that this plan calls for improvement. I have not faced such a situation before, so the shortcomings were not visible," the minister said, adding that Chief of Defence Jonas Vytautas Žukas will be ordered to review the procedures of the rescue operations plan.

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