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Two Finnish business leaders confirmed dead in Zimbabwe plane crash

Stock-listed firms confirmed Saturday evening that two top executives perished aboard the ill-fated flight on Friday.

Turmakone
Remains of the light airplane following the crash. Image: Zinyange Auntony / Lehtikuva

The Foreign Ministry confirmed Saturday that all four passengers aboard a light air plane that crashed in Zimbabwe on Friday were Finnish citizens.

Among the passengers confirmed dead was 52-year-old Pekka Ojanpää, chief executive of the maintenance services and circular economy firm Lassila & Tikkanoja, daily Helsingin Sanomat reported on Saturday.

Pekka Ojanpää
Pekka Ojanpää, CEO of Lassila & Tikkanoja. Image: Emmi Korhonen / Lehtikuva

Another of the crash victims was 51-year-old Heikki Vappula, director of forestry company UPM’s Biorefining business unit.

All of the Finns on board the ill-fated Cessna S206 aircraft were said to be men in their 50s. The pilot also died in the crash.

Heikki Vappula
Hekki Vappula was director of UPM's Biorefining unit. Image: Trond H. Trosdahl / Lehtikuva

Reports indicate that the plane took off in cloudy conditions from an airfield near Chiredzi in the mountainous Masvingo province and was bound for Victoria Falls.

According to the Zimbabwe public broadcaster the victims’ bodies were transferred to the Masvingo hospital for forensic examinations.

Accident investigation agency still in dark

Finland’s Safety Investigation Authority Otkes had not yet received any information from Zimbabwean officials about the crash, director Veli-Pekka Nurmi told STT news agency on Saturday.

"It seems that we will not get it, at least this weekend," he added.

According to Nurmi, it does not seem likely that Otkes personnel will travel to the crash site, which is in rugged terrain, for an investigation. He noted that if the plane was manufactured in the US for example, investigators are likely to seek information in that direction.

The Otkes director said that it is quite typical for officials from different countries to cooperate on a flight crash investigation. He explained that the state in which the aircraft is registered and operated as well as the country where it was designed and manufactured all have a right to appoint a representative to take part in the investigation.

"And then there are participating states which get involved if their nationals are victims. This option only provides limited access to information. The right is restricted to information about the victims," Nurmi pointed out.

"Typical of a light airplane crash"

Nurmi said that he had seen photos of the crash site in media reports and noted that they do not show anything unusual.

"Pretty typical traces of a light airplane crash. That’s what it looks like," he said, adding that Cessna aircraft are reliable and widely used. He said that what can make a difference in aviation is how aircraft are maintained and serviced.

"Even good planes can malfunction if they are neglected and vice versa," Nurmi declared.

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