Five aircraft, 27 persons were involved in GDF rescue operations; Survivors alert and await extraction

See below the full statement issued by the Ministry of Public Works:


On December 6, 2023, at 11:20LST, a Search and Rescue Satellite Aided Tracking (SARSAT) message was received by Air Traffic Services at Timehri Control Tower indicating an initial alert of a distress signal for aircraft 8R-AYA, Bell 412 helicopter operated by Guyana Defence Force.

The aircraft departed Olive Creek destined for Arau in Region 7 with seven persons on board. In keeping with established procedures, the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority activated the National Rescue Coordination Centre (NRCC) at 1145LST, to coordinate the search and rescue mission to locate the aircraft.

Immediate response coordination with the primary responders for such a mission included the GDF, private aircraft owners and operators, and the Guyana Police Force. Four aircraft, including a specially equipped search and rescue helicopter, were deployed to the base of operation, with GDF Special Forces. However, the search was suspended due to adverse weather conditions.

The NRCC re-commenced its operations at 0500LST, on December 7, 2023. Five aircraft, including the GDF Skyvan and Bell 412, were deployed to the base of operation at Blake Slater aerodrome between 0700-1000hrs with twenty-seven persons, including the On Scene Coordinator from the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority.

At 1040hrs, the GDF Bell helicopter located the crash site and signs of life were observed. However, the insertion of the GDF Special Forces was impaired due to weather. A team led by Col. Howell was successfully inserted 800m from the crash site.

Subsequently, the On Scene Coordinator reported that there were two survivors of the seven persons on board the aircraft. Two unsuccessful extraction attempts were made due to the poor weather conditions and the terrain.

Members of the Special Forces, including two medical personnel and the two survivors remain at the crash site awaiting extraction. The GDF Helicopter and crew are at the base of operation engaging in the extraction exercise.

Contact with the Special Forces at the crash site this morning established that the two survivors are alert and are awaiting extraction.