Madagascar says remains of UK student who fell from plane now found

Alana Cutland, who was on a research trip, fell from a light aircraft shortly after it took off from an airport in remote northwestern Madagascar. (Credit: Facebook)
Updated 07 August 2019

Madagascar says remains of UK student who fell from plane now found

  • Police said she apparently jumped from the plane just a few minutes after it took off from a small airport at Anjajavy on a flight to the capital Antananarivo
  • The pilot and another passenger, named as Ruth Johnson, say they tried in vain to stop her

ANTANANARIVO: Police in Madagascar on Wednesday said villagers had found the remains of a British student who apparently jumped from a plane after opening the aircraft door in mid-air.
Nineteen-year-old Cambridge University student Alana Cutland, who was on a research trip, fell from a light aircraft shortly after it took off from an airport in remote northwestern Madagascar.
Her body was found on Tuesday in the Mahadrodroka forest, police said.
“Villagers have finally found Alana Cutland’s body after a fortnight of searching,” chief investigator Spinola Edvin Nomenjanahary said.
Police said she apparently jumped from the plane just a few minutes after it took off from a small airport at Anjajavy on a flight to the capital Antananarivo on July 25.
The pilot and another passenger, named as Ruth Johnson, say they tried in vain to stop her, investigators report.
Anjajavy villagers launched a search for her body the day after the incident.
On Monday they performed a ritual called “joro” that involved the sacrificial slaughter of a prized zebu cow to seek help from a Malagasy god named Zanahary.
They located Cutland’s remains the following day, Edvin Nomenjanahary said.
Police provided pictures to the media of a coffin being taken off a helicopter at an airport in the port city of MaHajjanga. It will be transported to the capital Antananarivo on Thursday.
According to investigators, Cutland had displayed erratic behavior before the incident.
The natural sciences student was supposed to have stayed 45 days in Anjajavy to study crabs but quit after 10 days.
In a statement issued through the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the family described her as “a bright, independent young woman.”
“She was particularly excited to be embarking on the next stage of her education, on an internship in Madagascar complementing her studies in natural sciences.”
“Her thirst for discovering more of the world always ensured she made the most of every second of her action-packed young life.”


Taliban claim responsibility for downing US plane in Afghanistan

Updated 59 min 22 sec ago

Taliban claim responsibility for downing US plane in Afghanistan

  • All on board were reportedly killed in the crash in Ghazni province
  • Initial reports suggest aircraft belonged to a private company

KABUL, KARACHI: The Afghan Taliban have claimed responsibility for downing a US military aircraft that crashed in Ghazni province on Monday.
“A special aircraft of the American occupant was flying in the area, for the purpose of an intelligence mission in the Sado Khail region of Deh Yak district of Ghazni province,” said Afghan Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid. “Our mujahideen have taken down (the aircraft) tactically.”
The statement was accompanied by video footage and photographs of the aircraft and charred bodies. The letters “USAF,” the identifier of the US Air Force, can be clearly seen on the wreckage.
All crew members and passengers, including several senior CIA officers, were killed, Mujahid added, and the wreckage and bodies remain at the crash site. He did not disclose what kind of weapons the group has used to shoot down the plane.
Earlier, Ghazni Governor Waheedullah Kalemzai said the plane crashed outside the government’s area of control.
Kalemzai’s spokesman, Aref Noori, added that the “aircraft belonged to a foreign company and all of the passengers on board were non-Afghans.”
He said: “The plane caught fire. Except for the two pilots, the rest of the bodies cannot be identified, nor can the type of plane be specified.”
The government did not immediately have detailed information about the type and origin of the plane, or how exactly many people were on board, Noori added.
Initial reports had suggested the aircraft belonged to the state-owned Ariana Afghan Airlines. However, the carrier denied this.
Ali Sena, a spokesman for the Afghan Ministry of Transportation, said that no local aviation companies have reported a crash.
US-led NATO forces and foreign firms in Afghanistan sometimes use private aviation companies to transport personnel equipment and goods. The Taliban has on several occasions shot at such aircraft.
The US military has yet to issue a statement and a representative could not be reached for comment.
If the Taliban’s claim of responsibility is confirmed, it may affect the ongoing peace talks in Qatar between the US government and the militant group.