Today, 28 years, ago Helderberg 747 crashes near Mauritius

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South African Airways (SAA) aircraft, the Helderberg 747, crashed into the Indian Ocean near Mauritius, killing all 159 people on board on 28 November 1987.

A fire, which started from the main deck cargo hold, was the apparent cause of the crash.

The board of inquiry reported that the fire was fueled by plastic and cardboard packing materials, but the actual source of ignition could not be determined.

Sabotage was unlikely to have been the cause of ignition.

According to Justice Margo, who led the inquiry board, the smoke and fire detector systems as well as the firefighting facilities were in poor working condition.

It was also discovered that a ZUR tape recording of flight had disappeared and rumours that there had been an earlier fire (information about which had allegedly been suppressed), and also that the flight had carried dangerous cargo, led to wide-spread speculations in the press.

Source: South African History Online

Compiled by Moeketsi Mogotsi/Courant News