The CNMI government can only hope that all airlines flying in and out of the Commonwealth strictly adhere to safety standards following Sunday’s Star Marianas plane crash on Tinian that killed three people and injured four others.
All four survivors were still at the hospital as of yesterday.
Only the 3-year-old survivor, a girl, has been upgraded to “fair” condition as of yesterday, Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. interim chief executive officer Esther Muña said.
The three adult survivors—two females and one male—remain in critical but stable condition at CHC.
“We’re closely monitoring the patients,” Muña said.
All four survivors are Chinese tourists.
Of the three who perished, two are Chinese tourists—a 26-year-old female and a 29-year-old male. The third fatality is the pilot.
Muña said the bodies of the deceased are at CHC.
An autopsy has yet to be conducted.
Muña said CHC cannot confirm the conditions of the bodies without a written report.
Sunday’s plane crash was the third and worst mishap in three days on Tinian, and happened some 11 months since the Nov. 19, 2012, crash involving the same airline that killed a Chinese tourist and injured six others.
“You can’t blame people if they choose to not use Star Marianas even though it charges $10 less compared to what Freedom Air charges on a one-way fare between Saipan and Tinian. Star Marianas charges only $24.50 and Freedom Air, $35, and paying the more expensive one is so worth it,” a Tinian resident working on Saipan said.
But Tinian Mayor Ramon Dela Cruz said people should not judge too fast, reiterating that each Star Marianas aircraft flying the Saipan-Tinian route has some 4,000 takeoffs and landings a month without major incidents.
“Maybe if you have major incidents every week then you can say it’s not safe, but if you have some 4,000 landings and takeoffs in a month and you have a major incident once in 11 months, that does not speak of the airline not being safe,” he said.
Press secretary Angel Demapan reiterated that the plane crash “is a very unfortunate situation and it is important that the investigation be conducted to determine the cause of the incident.”
“The government is hopeful that all airlines flying in and out of the Commonwealth exercise due diligence in ensuring that all applicable safety standards are strictly adhered to,” he said.
Communications with China
The six tourists aboard the ill-fated plane were from China’s Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces, China’s state-run news agency Xinhua quoted the Consulate-General of China in Los Angeles as saying.
Demapan said the Office of the Governor is actively updating the Chinese embassy in Los Angeles whenever new information is available.
One of the adult surviving females is the mother of the 3-year-old girl who also survived.
The girl’s father, however, was among those who died in the crash, sources said.
Demapan said no further information can be made available pending notification of the next of kin. These include the identities of the deceased and the survivors.
The Federal Aviation Administration has taken over and will be the main point of contact for the investigation, he added.
The governor was at the Tinian crash site on Sunday along with other top officials.
Demapan said that due to ongoing investigation, visitors are not being allowed at this time, when asked whether the governor has visited the survivors at the Commonwealth Health Center.
“Nonetheless, the government stands ready to assist should the need arise. Right now, the patients and the medical team need to be given the opportunity to focus on recovery. Additionally, the government is grateful for the constant assistance from the American Red Cross who has been assisting the families that are on island,” he added.