Survivor Heard Sound ‘Like A Shot’ Before Crash
MAPUTO, Mozambique (AP) _ The body of President Samora Machel will lie in state at Maputo city hall beginning Friday, the official Mozambican News Agency said today.
A survivor of the crash in which the 53-year-old Machel died, meanwhile, was quoted by the agency as saying he heard ″a sound like a shot″ minutes before the plane went down.
Machel’s Soviet-made jet, en route from Zambia to Maputo, crashed just inside neighboring South Africa on Sunday night, killing 34 people. Neither South Africa nor Mozambique has commented on the cause of the crash, but South African newspapers have said poor weather and pilot error may have been to blame.
The Mozambican news agency’s director, Carlos Cardoso, wrote Wednesday that Fernando Manuel Joao, one of Machel’s bodyguards, said ″we heard the plane screech, it seemed that it was shot at.″
The lights went off, the engines stopped and about three minutes passed as the plane traveled ″blindly, with no power,″ he was quoted as telling Security Minister Sergio Vieira on Monday in Cardoso’s presence.
Foreign Minister R.F. Botha of South Africa spoke Monday of a survivor who reported hearing a bang or a shot shortly before the crash, but did not identify the survivor.
Cardoso also reported Wednesday that Machel told reporters South Africa had plotted to assassinate him last year by smuggling bazookas into Mozambique. Cardosa gave no details of the alleged attempt, which he said Machel reported Oct. 11.
In Pretoria, a South African military spokesman denied the claim. The spokesman could not be identified under official policy.
The lying in state was to have begun today but authorities delayed it for organizational reasons, the agency said. Machel’s funeral is scheduled for Tuesday, and funerals for the other 33 who died in the crash are scheduled for the following day.
The standing committee of parliament said general elections would be suspended because of Machel’s death. It did not announce new dates. The voting began Aug. 15 and was being held in stages.
The ruling party, FRELIMO, said a 14-member commission had been set up to to determine the cause of the crash, including Vieira and air force commander Maj. Gen. Antonio Hama Thai.
In Pretoria, the wife of South African President P.W. Botha visited the plane’s Soviet flight engineer, in intensive care at a military hospital.
The engineer, Vladimir Novoselov, was one of 10 survivors and the only member of the five-man crew to survive.
Elize Botha, who was visiting injured soldiers at the hospital, gave Novoselov a pot of flowers, then held his hand and spoke to him through an interpreter.