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Senator upset with very slow response to aircraft emergency

Sen. Magalei Logovi’i i [SN file photo]

Sen. Magalei Logovi’i is upset with the very slow response by the Pago Pago International Airport emergency crew to an incident yesterday on the runway — close to the Pala Lagoon area.

Magalei was among the passengers on the Talofa Airways flight yesterday morning from Apia. He explained in a Samoa News phone interview yesterday afternoon that when the plane landed, a section of one of the tire areas broke, as the plane turned.

He credited the pilot for being calm and quickly shutting down the aircraft to prevent any serious matters. “We waited inside the plane for 10 minutes,” he said, and during that time, Magalei said he used his cellular phone to contact emergency services, including Airport management, but he didn't get any satisfactory replies.

He said a vehicle stopped by on the runway, to check on the plane, and the passengers were able to get off the runway.

Magalei said he was told by airport personnel that the director, Taimalelagi Dr. Claire Poumele, was at a Fono hearing.

(Samoa News notes that Taimalelagi was at a House hearing yesterday morning regarding Manu’a issues)

Magalei said it was later, when the passengers were already off the runway, that fire trucks from the Airport Rescue crew showed up and sprayed foam on the runway spot where the plane was sitting.

“My point is, if the plane had broken down and burned, where was the rescue crew? No one showed up right away when this incident occurred,” he told Samoa News, adding that he was very upset with the sluggish emergency response time.

Magalei said he plans to call a committee hearing for next week, to summon Taimalelagi and other airport officials to answer questions.

The senator also questioned as to whether the airport has filed a report of the incident with the Federal Aviation Administration.

Responding to Samoa News inquiries, Taimalelagi said the airport is required to file a report to FAA within 24 hours, adding that the airport manager, Tavita Fuimaono will share a copy of the report “once a thorough research with facts has been compiled.”

She said the official report will be sent out today to the FAA.