Pilot in Saipan crash being airlifted to Philippines

Saipan's international airport is shown. The airport's aircraft rescue and firefighting team responded to the crash of a Star Marianas Air plane yesterday. / By Jerick Sablan/Pacific Daily News

SAIPAN -- The 26-year-old man who was one of six survivors in the crash of a commuter plane yesterday morning in Saipan is being airlifted today for further medical treatment to a Philippine hospital.

The crash's lone fatality, a female, was among a group of Chinese visitors on the seven-seat commuter plane.

The Piper Cherokee aircraft crashed near the Saipan International Airport terminal shortly after departing for a flight to Tinian Island, which is several flight minutes away.

The commuter plane, operated by Star Marianas Air, is one of seven Piper Cherokee planes on the airline's fleet that's being used to transport passengers to the Tinian Dynasty and Casino.

Federal investigators are expected to arrive in Saipan later today.

Star Marianas Air operations continue today. Flights took off earlier today for Tinian and Rota, the two smaller populated islands of the Northern Marianas.

Juan Babauta, CEO of the health center, said updates were being provided to NTSB officials. National Transportation Safety Board investigators are expected to arrive in Saipan tonight, Babauta said.

He confirmed the critically injured passenger would be airlifted to the Philippines around 1 p.m. today.

Four Chinese tourists were injured in the crash, and they are in stable condition at the health center. They are able to talk and they're receiving care in a shared room with a Chinese translator, health center management confirmed.

A health center nursing supervisor confirmed on Monday that the critically injured patient is the plane's pilot.

The sixth survivor was released from the health center after he was treated for minor injuries. (http://is.gd/1rJmYZ)


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