Where’s mommy?” was the question repeated, in Chinese, by the 3-year-old girl who survived the early Sunday morning plane crash on Tinian.
The child was discharged from the Commonwealth Health Center Monday afternoon, while the three adult survivors, including the girl’s mother, remain in the hospital.
Federal investigation into the worst commercial aviation incident since at least the early ‘90s has started, even as families of the victims and Chinese media have begun arriving in the CNMI.
The Star Marianas crash claimed the lives of the child’s father, one other female Chinese tourist, and the pilot.
This is barely 11 months since another Star Marianas crash that killed a Chinese tourist and injured six others, including the pilot, on Nov. 19, 2012. Federal investigation into the 2012 crash has yet to be completed.
CHC interim chief executive officer Esther Muña confirmed yesterday that the youngest survivor was discharged at 4:30pm Monday.
Muña said that one of the three adult survivors requires “further surgery.” She declined to comment further on this matter.
She said one adult survivor who is now in “fair” condition was moved to a regular ward yesterday. The patient could also be discharged soon.
The other one is in critical but stable condition and remains in the intensive care unit, along with the other one needing “further surgery.”
A medical specialist from Guam is expected to arrive on Saipan as early as today or within the week to assist CHC in the further surgery needed, Saipan Tribune sources said.
A Federal Aviation Administration investigator visited the survivors at CHC yesterday and spoke with some CHC personnel as part of the ongoing investigation into the plane crash.
The CNMI government has yet to release the identities of the deceased and the survivors.
All four survivors are Chinese tourists.
Two of the deceased are also Chinese tourists—a 26-year-old female and a 29-year-old male, the father of the young survivor.
The third fatality is the pilot, Luis Silva.
The child survivor is now with one of her uncles, sources said.
The NMI Chapter of the American Red Cross also continues to assist CHC and the survivors.
Tinian Mayor Ramon Dela Cruz, one of those who went to the crash site on Sunday and Monday, said it was a “gruesome” scene.
“It was gruesome. It shakes you. I saw the bodies. I’ve never seen anything like that before. I pray for the families of those affected by what happened. I have also known the pilot Luis for quite some time,” the mayor said.
Still, the mayor said that, with some 4,000 takeoffs and landing a month for the entire fleet, one major incident in nine months is still a safe record. He, along with others in the community, hopes that there won’t be any more of such crash.
The Inos administration itself can only hope that all airlines flying in and out of the Commonwealth strictly adhere to safety standards following Sunday’s crash, the third and worst mishap involving the same airline three days in a row.
On Friday afternoon, a Star Marianas plane made an emergency landing on Broadway Avenue on Tinian, followed by a plane that fell into a concrete-enforced drainage at the Tinian airport Saturday morning.
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 added.
On Monday, the Federal Bureau of Investigation said there is no indication at this point that Sunday’s crash of a Star Marianas was due to a deliberate act.
FBI special agent Tom Simon said the FBI’s role, along with the U.S. Coast Guard and CNMI authorities, is to preserve the evidence at the impact scene while they await the arrival of crash investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board and the FAA.
The Star Marianas Piper Cherokee Six aircraft left the Tinian airport at 2:41am for Saipan but crashed in a jungle on Tinian.