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Swissair Tragedy


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The crash of Swissair Flight 111 in brief




Lighthouse staff

 
September 2

 9:18 p.m.: Swissair Flight 111 takes off from JFK International Airport in New York bound for Geneva with 215 passengers and 14 crew members on board. The non-stop flight is known at United Nations headquarters and its European centre as "The U.N. Shuttle" because it is widely used by officials and diplomats travelling between the two cities.

 10:22 p.m.: Air traffic control in Moncton receives a distress call that there is smoke in the cockpit of the aircraft. Captain Urs Zimmermann and co-pilot Stephan Loew ask to make an emergency landing suggesting Boston, but are directed to Halifax because it is closer. The plane descends from 33,000 feet to about 15,000 but is forced to turn away from the airport because it is still too high. The crew request and receive permission to dump fuel because the aircraft is too heavy to land.

 10:24 p.m.: Pilot declares an emergency, indicating he must land immediately. There is no further communication from Flight 111.

 10:30 p.m.: Residents along the South Shore hear the sound of a sputtering engine followed by a loud crash of impact. Flight 111 impacts the water. It was last reported at about 9,700 feet. The Rescue Co-ordination Centre in Halifax dispatches aircraft, Coast Guard and navy ships.

 10:39 p.m.: Emergency Health Services is notified of the probable crash by the RCMP. Air ambulance and emergency units from Halifax, the South Shore and the Annapolis Valley are dispatched to the area.

 10:46 p.m.: The Blandford fire department is paged and, in turn, places a South Shore Mutual Aid call to other departments in the region for assistance.

 11:15 p.m.:The Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre is put on emergency alert. Dartmouth General, South Shore Regional, Fishermen's Memorial and the IWK-Grace are put on notice. Staff are called back to work to handle the expected influx of injured passengers.

 
September 3

 12:30 a.m.: Rescue aircraft and boats patrol the ocean between Tancook Island, Bayswater, and East Ironbound. An incident command centre is established at Bayswater Beach. Canadian Coast Guard cutter Sambro locates wreckage about eight kilometres southwest of Peggy's Cove.

 1:45 a.m.: Command centre at Bayswater demobilizes as focus shifts to Peggy's Cove.

 2:30 a.m.: Ambulances told to stand down as hope for survivors fades.

 3:15 a.m.: The first body is brought ashore at Peggy's Cove.

 3:30 a.m.: Emergency alert at hospitals ends.

 11 a.m.: Officials say they still have faint hope of finding survivors. Sea Kings begin flying bodies from HMCS Preserver to temporary morgue set up at Shearwater.

 12:30 p.m.: Swissair in Zurich announces that no one on board Flight 111 survived the crash.

 
September 4

 1 p.m.: Rescue operation officially becomes salvage operation. There is no chance of finding survivors. The last count provided by officials indicated 60 bodies had been recovered.

 2:40 p.m.: A Swissair Airbus touches down at Halifax International Airport bringing the first group of grieving family members to Nova Scotia.


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