RIGA - A plane crash in Tukums has left one dead and seven others critically wounded. The eight-passenger Fighter 31 crashed shortly after 10 a.m. on Aug. 16 after taking off from Riga's Spilve Airport, narrowly missing nearby homes by about 200 meters.
The crash is under investigation, but the leading hypothesis is that poor visibility due to weather conditions is to blame. The plane belonged to the aviation school Air Training, confirmed Tukums area police director Signe Dektere.
Aboard the plane were two pilots and six aviation students who had come to Tukums for an air show.
The plane, originally left at the crash site, has been brought in for expert testing to determine if the aircraft equipment was at fault. Police director Dektere added that there could be many reasons behind the crash, and that their job was to find out what it was and come to a concrete conclusion.
In connection to the Tukums crash, criminal proceedings regarding flight safety are due to begin.
The pilot of the small aircraft died in the hospital and the seven other passengers were critically injured. Only one passenger so far has been released, according to Incident Medical Center director Martins Sics.
When medics arrived on the scene, the pilot and others were hooked up to ventilators, but the pilot had sustained more severe injury.
The medics have taken four of the injured passengers to Riga's orthopedic and trauma center, among them a man with a broken spine and leg. The others are at Paul Stradina hospital.
One passenger, a woman, is in extremely critical condition, with spine, rib and brain injuries. For safety reasons, medics have decided not to transfer her to the Riga hospital.
Incident Response Bureau director Alfreds Gaveika said that after an initial investigation at the crash site, the aircraft seemed to have been in fine working order, with no electrical malfunctions noted.
Civil Aviation director Maris Gorodcovs told reporters: "This morning Spilve Airport had very bad visibility and many pilots chose to delay their flights until later."
The pilot had been warned of these conditions, Gorodcovs said.