Tragic Plane Crash in Chania Claims Two Lives

Tragic Plane Crash in Chania Claims Two Lives

Two people, the pilot and one passenger, have lost their lives in a private aircraft crash in the sea area of Maleme on north-western Crete on Thursday evening.

A video recording of the crash captures the final moments of the ill-fated flight. The aircraft was en route to land at Souda but took a fateful turn, flying at a low altitude towards Maleme, eventually plummeting into the sea, claiming the lives of its two passengers.

The president of the Chania Aeroclub and friend of the pilot who died, Panagiotis Tzarakis, who witnessed the footage of crash, provided crucial insight into the incident. The pilot had initially intended to land at Souda but changed course, he said, flying perilously low and eventually crashing into the sea, approximately 150 meters from the coast.

Private lifeguard divers recovered their bodies about half a mile west of Maleme beach, and they were found still strapped into their seats with seatbelts intact at a depth of approximately two and a half meters.

Lifeguard Pavlos Litinakis described how he located the victims, noting that they made no attempt to escape, likely due to the shock and potential loss of consciousness upon impact. "We went by boat and saw the aircraft. We had no diving equipment with us. I did the extrication with the breaths. They were bound, they had made no attempt to get out. They…probably lost consciousness or even their lives on impact."

Efforts to bring the victims to safety were swift, with Coast Guard vessels and EKAV ambulances responding promptly. The bodies were transported to Chania Hospital.

According to Tzarakis, the captain of the Savannah ultralight aircraft was an aero club president.

"His name was Theodoros Pantos, he was the president of the West Greece Aeroclub,” he said. “There was a man waiting for him in Maleme from another airport and he informed us that he was late. While heading to Souda airport, he went to Maleme. The conditions for a night landing do not exist here, nor did his plane have such capabilities and I don't think he was trained for a night landing.”

When asked how he thought the accident happened, Mr. Tzarakis speculated that the pilot became disoriented: "He turned to land and probably got disoriented. He probably thought he was flying level but he was heading out to sea. Because I saw the crash, it was so intense that there's no way they could have done anything."

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