Two people have died and another is in a critical condition after a plane carrying a medical team to a transplant crashed in Romania’s Apuseni mountains.
Seven passengers were on board the Britten Norman 2 light aircraft, which crashed landed in remote terrain on Monday evening (January 20) while was flying to Oradea to harvest organs for a transplant.
It took rescuers about five hours to reach the team which included five doctors, a nurse and two flight crew members.
Hundreds of people, including many from surrounding villages, searched for the survivors across a 10 km area, covered with a 30-cm layer of snow, between the counties of Cluj and Alba.
It was villagers from Horea who found the crash site, on a 1,400 meter high mountain peak.
According to Romanian media, the pilot, Adrian Iovan, was trapped in the aircraft and dead when rescuers arrived. The remained six passengers were conscious.
Two were found in a critical condition, with one of the critical passengers, a woman, dying overnight and the other thought to be the co-pilot.
Unable to bring the usual rescue equipment because of the crash site’s remote location, rescuers carried survivors to the nearest road and took them by car to the closest village. From there they were taken by helicopter to hospitals in Cluj.
It is yet uncertain how the accident took place, and teams from the Interior Ministry are investigating. It’s understood Iovan had managed to crash land the plane and save the others.
The emergency call to 112 was made by Valentin Calu, a doctor on the plane, who also gave first aid to the others and lit a fire with personal items from his luggage to keep warm.
Calu, from the Elias Hospital, also called his medical director, to say they crashed and that he was laying on the ground barely breathing.
The head of the National Transplant Unit Victor Zota was also in touch with another one of the survivors, doctor Radu Zamfir, who said that was probably the last phone call he could make.
The plane was carrying doctors from Sf. Maria, Fundeni and Elias hospitals, as well as from a hospital in Oradea.
The Britten Norman 2 can reach a speed of 200 kilometers an hour – cruise speed- and can carry eight passengers.
According to Romanian media, the plane was an old generation one, and meanwhile, newer, better planes are sitting in a hangar.