ECCAA head still missing, interim Director General appointed

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ECCAA head still missing, interim Director General appointed

Unread post by bimjim » Mon Feb 15, 2010

OECS: ECCAA head still missing, interim Director General appointed
Posted by admin on 2/15/10

ST JOHN’S, Antigua, CMC – The Eastern Caribbean Civil Aviation Authority (ECCAA) said it has appointed its Director of Air Navigation, Donald McPhail, as interim Director General.

The ECCAA said in a statement that a decision was taken by the board of directors at a recent meeting to appoint an interim team to move the organisation forward since the substantive holder of the post, Rosemond James, has been unaccounted for since the devastating magnitude 7.0 earthquake that jolted Haiti on January 12. The death toll from the earthquake has surpassed 200,000.

The Antigua-based agency said McPhail’s name has been forwarded to the heads of government and Civil Aviation ministers in the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) for their endorsement.

James and Director of Flight Safety Gregory McAlpin had travelled to Haiti to attend the annual meeting of the Caribbean Aviation Safety and Security Oversight (CASSOS). They were booked at Hotel Montana, a popular 98-year-old luxury property that crumbled into a pile of debris, burying more than 200 people.

The ECCAA Directorate said it has been working to find the two high-ranking officials.

A statement issued by the agency said initial reports from other delegates who had travelled to Haiti to attend the conference indicated that James and McAlpin were safe but that the two men were unaccounted for when the other delegates gathered at the airport to leave the day after the quake.

“At that point we found it necessary to do more and directed our efforts towards search and rescue as opposed to just organising transportation for them. It soon became evident that no direct attempt was being made by any agencies in Haiti, to find our two colleagues, that all countries involved in the search and rescue operations in Haiti were concerned with rescuing their own citizens and that no resources were directed towards finding Mr. James and Mr. Alpin,” an ECCAA statement said.

An ECCAA team, comprised three members of the Royal Grenada Police Force who had previously served in Haiti under the UN Peacekeeping Mission and two members of ECCAA’s staff who were chosen from a list of volunteers, was then sent to Haiti “during which it was expected that Mr. James and Mr. McAlpin would be rescued and brought back to Antigua”.

The team arrived in Port-au-Prince a week after the earthquake, having not been allowed to land in the country on a previous attempt, and immediately began its search and rescue mission.

“During the ensuing 21 days, the team conducted investigations, carried out searches, made enquiries and checks in its efforts to find Mr. James and Mr. Mc Alpin. The team visited all hospitals, clinics and other centres where survivors from the Hotel Montana site were taken for medical attention, inspected human remains found at the Hotel Montana site and closely monitored the operations at the site of the Hotel Montana.

“On 3rd February 2010, changes in the modus operandi at the Hotel Montana site caused significant limitations and restrictions to the team’s activities. As at that date, the team’s operations were limited to requesting for and receiving of information only. As a result, the team’s continued presence in Haiti no longer offered the advantages it previously did,” the ECCAA said, adding that its crew on the ground was recalled and that two separate entities in Haiti continued the work on its behalf.

“The team left Haiti before James and McAlpin could be accounted for; however we have not abandoned our efforts to locate our colleagues,” the agency assured, adding it was “confident that our interests and those of the affected families will be adequately represented in Haiti”.

In light of the situation, the ECCAA board met in emergency and appointed McPhail for a six-month period.

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