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Captain John  Hood

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First Officer

Garth Beaumont

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Air Hostess

Brenda-Ann Pearson

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Air Hostess

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Tracey Cole

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Mrs Sharon Cole and Tracey

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Dr Cecil McLaren

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Shannon and Robert Hargreaves

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STOP!

These are distressingly graphic pics below ..do not click here unless you really want to see the horrifying results of this incident.

The DONGA OF DEATH

SCOPE Magasine

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The Hunyani Disaster

Put together from various books and news reports. 'Quotes' from survivors may be the journo's own interpretation. ie Mayday call variations..
"Under the Skin" by David Caute ..The Times...The Rhodesia Herald... The Sydney Morning Herald

The safest way to travel around Rhodesia was to fly. Everyone was agreed about that.

Air Rhodesia flight Rh825 was operating the daily scheduled flight from Kariba to Salisbury. The four-engine Viscount which took off from Kariba Airport at 5.10 in the afternoon of the 3rd of September 1978 was carrying a crew of four and fifty-two passengers, most of whom had been week ending at the lakeside holiday resort, site of the spectacular dam which spans the Zambezi and thus joins Rhodesia to Zambia.

Despite intermittent rocket and mortar attacks from Zambia, Kariba had continued to flourish, with hotel bookings only 11 per cent down on the peak year, 1972. Water-skiing, sailing, fishing and the proximity of abundant game - all this brought tourists and weekenders to the Cutty Sark Hotel or the Arabic-style Caribbea Bay Hotel with its lakeside boathouse and lush bougainvillea.

Dr Cecil McLaren was returning to Salisbury after a forty-eight-hour spell of duty as visiting dentist to the Central African Generating Authority staff responsible for running the great dam. This stint was a medical man's version of military call-up and his fifty-ninth take-off from Kariba. One of the last to board the plane, he noticed a spare seat at the back next to a woman and her 4-year-old daughter. He took it. The Viscount Hunyani (named after one of Rhodesia's major rivers) gained altitude at the normal rate, crossed the waters of the bright-blue lake, and headed over the remote, sparsely populated bush of the Urungwe TTL. The no-smoking lights went out as McClaren reached for his cigarettes.

At that moment, five minutes out of Kariba, the plane suddenly lurched, there was a loud bang and the inner starboard engine burst into flames. Ground control received a distress call from the Hunyani: the two starboard engines had failed.

The Times.. Sept 4 1978.. The pilot , Captain John Hood, was heard to call out on his radio: "I can't....they're going like f..." followed by the words "Mayday. Mayday, Rhodesia 825 I have lost both starboard engines. We are going in."

The Times.Sept 6 1978..The Viscount was in the air only for a short time before striking trouble. It broadcast a Mayday distress call at 0510 pm local time on Sunday. Another pilot heard it. "Mayday. Mayday, Rhodesia 825, help me." it said. "We have lost both starboard engines. We are going in."

'I was in no doubt we'd been hit by a heat-seeking missile,' says McLaren, who noted the aircraft's movements during the grim minutes that followed the explosion. It turned ninety degrees from east to due south, then Plunged into a rapid descent. Although the air hostesses gallantly made sure that every passenger was strapped in there was what MacLaren describes as 'a certain amount of panic'. 'There was panic in the plane the moment we all knew that the two engines were on fire. A lot of people jumped up. One fellow ahead of me was trying to get through one of the windows as the plane nose dived.' It was the men who lost their nerve: one man rushed up and down the aisle shouting for a fire extinguisher.

Survivors estimate it was about five minutes between the explosion and the impact with the ground. "It felt as if the plane would break up before we hit. It was going at a heck of a speed," Mr. Hill said.

On the flight deck Capt. Hood managed to keep control of the plane as it fell, aiming its nose for a large clearing in the bush. (in the Urungwe Tribal Trust Land, 50 miles west of Karoi was a cotton-field in the Whamira hills,a range of granite kopjes, whose name in local shona dialect means "you have stopped".) The passengers received the pilot's last instruction: 'Brace yourselves for impact!' McLaren heard the fuselage and wings scraping against the tops of trees and then the wheels touched down quite smoothly and it seemed they were going to have a fantastic escape. But the centre of the cotton-field was penetrated by a wide irrigation ditch; as the wheels hit it the plane cart-wheeled and exploded. When the wreckage finally came to a halt McLaren was upside-down five or six rows from the back and powerful flames were threatening to engulf them from the front of the plane. He tried to open a window but the handle broke in his hands. 'We hit the ground with terrific impact. I landed upside down with my mouth full of earth. The broken plane acted like a scoop scooping up dirt'

Even so he managed to release 4-year-old Tracey Cole from her seat-belt and somehow led the child and her mother, Mrs. Sharon Cole, out of a hole in the fuselage. "I really don't know what exactly happened after that in proper sequence. I saw a gap in the wreckage through which one could get through. I shouted at Sharon. (Sharon Cole) "Sharon get your seat belt loose." She hadn't done that. Somehow Sharon followed me through taking Tracy with her."

Shannon (18) and Robert Hargreaves (28), who had been married for a week told......."bits of metal were flying past the windows. We could feel the heat from the flames." Shannon was staring at the flames in horror, so I drew the curtain closed and told her to put her head between her knees and hold her ankles. I felt the impact and the sand all over me and saw the plane break up. After that I remember nothing until I got outside."

Mrs. Hargreaves said her husband had been flung out of his seat and was screaming for her. She shouted to him to get out and found she herself was trapped between two seats and could not move. "It was only when I heard Dr McLaren shouting at Mrs. Coles to release her seat belt that I realised this was why I could not get out. Dr McLaren helped me out and Robert crawled out."

The plane was an inferno. Only eighteen out of fifty-six survived the crash, all of them passengers seated in the rear. Among the other survivors was a friend of McLaren's, Tony Hill; between them they did their best to get the living to a distance of some seventy-five metres from the flaming plane, which they expected to explode any minute. The lucky ones ripped off their clothes to make bandages for the injured; Cynthia Tilley(This was incorrect  it was Cheryl Tilley ,webmaster) , a young Salisbury bank clerk and sister of 15-year-old Colin Tilley, shot down by guerrillas outside his home in January, shredded her colourful cotton dress and began to tend the wounded. It was painfully hot: To Cecil McLaren it seemed that the most urgent task was to find water.

He led a small party towards the smoke of a nearby village: Mrs. Cole and Tracey, as well as Robert and Shannon Hargreaves, a honey-moon couple who were not only stunned and injured but had lost their shoes.(They had in fact been wearing slops) (Sharon's hand would remain permanently disfigured, while her husband's twisted back and neck would result in months of pain, medical treatment and bitterness.) McLaren himself was wearing lace-up training shoes. Although McLaren, born in Rhodesia of Rhodesian-born parents, spoke Shona fluently, the villagers reacted to their presence with   suspicion, indeed hostility.  'When we got there, there was nobody. I spoke in the vernacular. Eventually a door opened and a face appeared, then another door opened. I asked a woman for water. At first she refused. Then she gave us some. We splashed our eyes and faces and went back to the aircraft. A young hostess was lying on the ground saying "please give me some water. Her upper arm as fractured'.

When he finally extracted some water McLaren took it back to the survivors at the scene of the crash before returning to the village for more. 'The local people were obviously terrified of giving us any help. 'Like Rider Haggard's Allan Quatermain, beleaguered among hostile natives, McLaren possessed and displayed what Mrs. Cole later called 'presence of mind and strength of character'. He is a dark man, Celtic in appearance, shy, courteous and conservative; he speaks in the quiet, clipped Rhodesian manner.

As he led his sad little limping party back towards the plane, carrying more water, the light was fading. His mouth and ears were still full of earth - the fuselage had ploughed up the field after the plane turned over - and he failed to pick up new voices at the scene of the crash. This was the second act of the nightmare: Zipra.

Sharon Cole whispered: 'I hear African voices.' Then she heard shouts of 'Buia lapa' followed by 'Come here!' in English.' "On the way back, Sharon suddenly stopped and said 'I hear African voices'. Next thing, we saw tracer bullets going over the trees-zip zip . We didn't even hit the deck. Whether this was the Terrs giving warning to the locals or the Terrs shooting at the survivors I couldn't tell."

The Rhodesia Herald told a slightly different story: Just as they were about to return to the crash site with water for the other survivors they saw tracer bullets go over the village and heard gunfire. "I thought it was ammunition from people's personal weapons in the plane exploding in the heat," said Mrs. Hargreaves. Not realising what had happened they continued towards the plane until after shouting out to the other survivors only an african voice replied, saying: "Come here" "They then opened up on us," said Mr. Hargreaves. "I grabbed Shannon and we ran to a ditch were we spent the night".

From a distance McLaren had heard an elderly Englishman, the only male among the captives, shout: 'What do you bastards want now?' A guerrilla replied: 'You have taken our land!' A protracted burst of firing followed - all ten fell dead, including Cynthia Tilley and two girls aged 11 and 4.

At that moment the eighteen surviving whites comprised the following: the five in McLaren's group; Tony Hill, who, after searching for a usable weapon in the wreckage, tore off his white shirt and deliberately ran through a grass fire to cover his escape when a dozen Zipra guerrillas showed up; a Mr. and Mrs. Hansen, who managed to hide themselves in the wreckage, where they covered themselves in dirt and debris and lay still all night; and the remaining ten who were taken captive. At first the guerrillas promised help and water. "They got us together, forcing those who could walk to carry those that couldn't" said Mr. Hans Hansen. "Then they opened up with sustained automatic fire. It was the most brutal thing I have ever seen."

That brought the death toll to forty-three.

The Rhodesia Herald . "We ran," sad Mr. Hill. "They kept firing at us until we ducked behind a ridge." The survivors stayed hiding for about two hours. Then the terrorists came back. They raided the aircraft wreckage looting suitcases that were strewn around, while the survivors, hidden in the nearby bush, watched in horror as the terrorists made off  "with their hands full." said Mr. Hanson.  Mr. Hanson is sure he heard a terrorist's bayonet as he drove it several times into the body of a seriously wounded survivor who was killed in the first sustained burst of automatic fire two hours previously.  Mrs. Hansen said, "They were terribly brutal. They took everything." "I can't think how people would do such a thing. They are animals," said Mr. Hansen.

McLaren recalls: "I said to Sharon Cole, 'Now we're on our own. 'We all ran off into a river bed and went along it until we reached what looked like the most secluded spot. And there we sat, quietly. Night had fallen by this time." He was unaware that Tony Hill and the Hansens had survived. In fact Hill spent the night in the same ditch as McLaren's party, though neither was aware of the other's presence. Through much of that long, bitterly cold night they listened to the stomping boots of the killers searching for them.

"Tracey was marvelleous. She didn't make the least noise." A single high-pitched, hysterical cry of 'Mummy!' from little Tracey could have ended the story, yet she never made a sound and went to sleep, dressed in a cotton dress, on top of McLaren. McLaren again: 'When I heard an owl hoot and a baboon I shuddered. It was the longest and most terrifying night of my life.' Sharon Cole was in great pain from a huge cut in her shoulder. Dr McLaren said, "Myself and all the others were still in shock but we spent the night all right. For hours we heard footsteps in the bush about us and we kept very quiet. You couldn't have had a better kid with you than Tracey."

"In the morning," Mr. Hargreaves said, "we moved up to a higher point where we hid between some rocks and slept for a while. At 10:30 a.m we decided to take our chances and find help."

In the morning, there being no sign of rescue aircraft or helicopters, McLaren decided to head for the main Salisbury-Kariba road. It was here that his coolness in taking note of the Viscount's ninety-degree turn after it was hit paid dividends; the dentist could roughly reckon their present position. It wasn't a happy little party of hikers. The injured Hargreaves shuffled barefoot behind them, their feet torn and blistered; ever-ingenious, McLaren tried to fashion shoes for them out of bark. Tracey had to be carried.

"All along the way, we came across hostile people. No I wouldn't say hostile-they were obviously very frightened. Whenever I went up to a kraal and asked for help, I would say 'if you can help, okay. If you can't, okay." The villagers along their route remained gloweringly hostile. Towards noon he wondered whether he had made the right decision when they saw paratroopers dropping from Dakotas over the scene of the crash. "Roundabout this time we spotted a Dakota dropping paratroops and I jumped up and waved my arms like mad. But I knew they hadn't a chance of seeing us. The Hargreaves were having trouble. They were wearing slip slops on the plane and had lost them. They didn't have any shoes and were lagging behind. "Sharon and Tracey had gone on ahead along a road and the Hargreaves said I shouldn't worry about them. But I couldn't leave them alone like that -no way. Rob had a damn sore neck and was having trouble keeping his balance. Once he stumbled badly. I made shoes for them out of grass- Sharon and Tracey were sitting waiting for us at the side of the road-when a Land Rover came along." Dr McLaren said the group had "a pretty scary time of it" trudging through the bush and wondering whether the next tribesmen would be terrorists.

But when they did finally hit the main road after walking twelve to fifteen kilometres they were almost instantly picked up by a police Land-Rover.

An Alouette helicopter flew them to Karoi. "Alouettes have no door. I felt terrified. I was clinging to the pilot's safety harness enough to strangle him and hating the low level at which we were flying." At Karoi the Special Branch debriefed them and warned them not to discuss what had happened. When he got back to Salisbury, and turned on his TV set, he was astounded to hear Capt. Pat Travers, head of Air Rhodesia, describe the crash as an accident.

Times 6 Sept 1978....Captain Travers said there was no evidence at present to suggest that the aircraft had been brought down by hostile action from Mr. Nkomo's or any other force. The message from the pilot was explicit. It said that both starboard engines were out of action." From evidence gathered so far, the crew were in control of the Viscount to the point of touchdown.

It was self-evident to McLaren that the Hunyani had been brought down by a heat-seeking missile.

Not talking to the press presented no problem to a man who harbours the greatest contempt for journalists. One of the sensationalistic Jo'burg papers claimed that the white females had been raped by the terrorists before being murdered, though this was untrue (as was confirmed to me by the doctor who examined the bodies). One local girl reporter told McLaren, 'I'm not here for the truth, I want fiction.' When another reporter, though rebuffed over the phone, showed up on McLaren's doorstep for an interview, the dentist threatened to shoot him if he didn't push off.

Rhodesia Herald 5 Sept 1978..The Combined Operations statement went on: " Security force members on arriving at the scene of the crash this morning said a starboard engine appeared to have exploded and the starboard external side of the plane was heavily scorched. The terrorists looted the plane.

How anyone survived Sunday night’s Viscount crash is the question now puzzling all who have seen what little remains of the ill-fated aircraft. (See photo on Viscount Down website) Early yesterday morning, a team of Salisbury journalists were escorted from Karoi by Police and Army for 83 km through the densely wooded and hilly terrain of the Urungwe Tribal Trust Land to the crash site, about 35 km south-west of Kariba. The Investigating team, headed by Captain John Heap of Air Rhodesia, and Mr. Phil Palmer, chief security adviser to the Department of Civil Aviation, were already at the scene for the second day, sifting through the wreckage of the aircraft, later catalogued and sent to Salisbury for analysis. Captain Heap said it was impossible to say when the cause of the crash would be known."I don’t want to.jump to any conclusions," he said.The Viscount, piloted by.Captain John Hood (36),came down in a cotton field about the size of two football fields divided in half by a donga more than 2 m deep and about 4 m wide.

The plane had clipped the tops off surrounding trees before making what aviation experts at the scene judged to be "a very soft landing". "This shows incredible accuracy by the pilot considering the circumstances", one said. Chief Inspector Mike Farrell, who led the facility trip, added: "It was a fantastic bit of flying to come down the way he did. The pilot must have thought that he was landing in a full field. He could not have known that the donga lay in the middle. He probably had only a couple of minutes to make his decision on where to come down," The Viscount, it appears, cartwheeled after the impact, disintegrated,exploding in a ball of fire, scattering parts of its wings and fuselage up to 200m around.

Most pieces of the wreckage were small, surrounding the only recognisable parts of the Viscount, the tailplane and a 3 m section of the rear, fuselage. About 20 men, aided by Police and Army, picked through ripped and molten metal and cockpit instruments. Among the debris were the personal belongings of the victims-pathetic reminders of their ill-fated holiday at Kariba.

The bodies of the ten crash survivors later murdered by terrorists were found 10 m to 15 meters apart, Mr. Farrell said, which indicated the victims had scattered as the terrorists opened fire on them. At least three of the bodies had been repeatedly bayoneted after death.

Asked by reporters why the local people, some living within a kilometre of the crash, had not come to the assistance of the survivors, Mr.: Farrell said, "Most would have stayed in their homes because of terrorist intimidation. They were frightened, This area has quite a strong terrorist presence."

By late yesterday afternoon the investigation team had left the scene. First parts of the, wreckage to be scrutinised will probably be the engines, two of which were reported by Captain Hood to have failed. These were removed yesterday: left behind were only charred scraps of the ill-fated Flight 825.

Anger and grief turned to insensate fury two days later, on 5 September, when RBC -TV relayed the soundtrack of a BBC interview with Joshua Nkomo, in the course of which he not only confirmed that his forces had brought the plane down but chuckled and chortled over his triumph, which he justified on the ground that such planes carry military men.

Sydney Morning Herald..."We brought that aircraft down, but it is not true that we killed any survivors." Mr Nkomo said.  The Rhodesians have been ferrying military personal and equipment in Viscounts and we had no reason to believe that this was anything different. The Rhodesians should know this is a military zone."

"This is a downright lie." Captain Travers said. "The airline is not engaged in any military operations, neither does it carry troops, arms, ammunition or supplies for this purpose. It never has been.....In our opinion, had the aircraft been hit by a missile or any other weapon the crew's first reaction would have been to say so. No words of mine could adequately portray the sense of complete horror and deep rooted revulsion which is felt by the whole of the (Air Rhodesia Corporation at the wanton, brutal and bloody massacre of 10 innocent and unarmed survivors, mostly women and children, who were bludgeoned, shot and bayoneted to death by a gang of unspeakable thugs."

The Times...6 Sept 1978 ...The Foreign Office expressed its shock at the incident but said it had no independent evidence of what had happened or who was responsible. "Yet again there has been a horrible and tragic incident in Rhodesia involving innocent civilians. We deplore the whole incident which, once more, underlines the need to bring this disastrous war to an end by negotiation and achieve independence and majority rule for Zimbabwe."

Five days after the disaster the Minister of Transport confirmed that the plane had been shot down by a 9M32 "Strela" missile, commonly known as a Sam 7.

In the House of Assembly, Wing Commander Rob Gaunt called for martial law, the banning of Zapu, and a postponement of the white referendum on the internal settlement. Donald Goddard, the virulent young MP for Matobo, interjected: 'Hang them publicly.' Gaunt warned that Africa was now going to witness the wrath of really angry white men.

For Ian Smith it was a political disaster. Almost simultaneously it was revealed that he had met the murderous Nkomo for secret talks in Lusaka only three weeks earlier. As crowds gathered outside the Anglican Cathedral of St Mary's and All Saints for the funeral service, an irate Rhodesian and father of four, Gideon Tredoux, held up a banner: 'PM Smith - Give Nkomo a message next time you meet him secretly: "Go to hell, you murdering bastard."' When Bishop Paul Burrough pulled down one of the hate posters, he was booed. Two thousand mourners packed into the Cathedral and a further 500 stood outside: the atmosphere was highly charged. At Cynthia Tilley's funeral at the Presbyterian Church on Jameson Avenue, one mourner growled: 'If that is not a satanic act, what is? You don't make a pact with the devil. He should be shot.'

The Rhodesia Herald.....The killing of the crash survivors was also condemned by Bishop Desmond Tutu, general secretary of the South African Council of Churches in a statement in Johannesberg. The statement said no condemnation could be strong enough for such a heartless act of slaying defenseless and helpless people, and heartfelt sympathy went to their relatives and friends.

A Deafening Silence'- the Anglican Hierarchy

The funeral service for the victims was the occasion of a remarkable sermon by the Anglican Dean of Salisbury, a fulmination which provoked a long and sour controversy within the churches. The Very Rev. John da Costa is tall, strongly built, bearded, white-robed, flamboyant, with a hale and crunching handshake - and quick-tempered. Trained by the Society of the Sacred Mission, da Costa had worked in West Africa and then among the Coloureds of Cape Town, where he served as adviser on missionary work to the Archbishop.

Gazing down from the cathedral pulpit on 2000 mourners, da Costa began by dissociating clergymen from politics: 'I will not allow politics to be preached in this Cathedral.'And yet, and yet: 'times come when it is necessary to speak out' against 'murder of the most savage and treacherous sort' which can arouse only 'disbelief ... revulsion'. Choosing his words carefully, the Dean declared: 'This bestiality, worse than anything in recent history, stinks in the nostrils of heaven.' (The cockney accent is continually surprising.)

The Rhodesia Herald some extracts........"Nobody who holds sacred the dignity of human life can be anything but sickened at the events attending the crash of the Viscount Hunyani. Survivors have the greatest call on the sympathy and assistance of every other human being. The horror of the crash was bad enough, but that this should have been compounded by the murder of the most savage and treacherous sort leaves us stunned with disbelief and brings revulsion in the minds of anyone deserving the name "human". This bestiality, worse than anything in recent history, stinks in the nostrils of heaven. But are we deafened by the voice of protest from nations which call themselves "civilised"? We are not. Like men in the story of the good Samaritan. They 'pass by on the other side'. One listens for condemnation by Dr David Owen, himself a medical doctor, trained to help all in need. One listens, and the silence is deafening. One listens for loud condemnation by the President of the United States, himself a man from the Bible-Baptist belt , and once again the silence is deafening. One listens for condemnation by the Pope, by the Archbishop of Canterbury, by all who love the name of God. Again the silence is deafening. I do not believe in white supremacy. I do not believe in black supremacy either......The ghastliness of this ill-fated flight from Kariba will be burned upon our memories for years to come. For others far from our borders, it is an intellectual matter, not one which affects them deeply."

Da Costa accused 'the nations which call themselves civilised' of a deafening silence. Neither Dr Owen nor the President of the USA, nor the Pope, nor the Chief Rabbi nor the Archbishop of Canterbury had condemned the deed loudly and clearly. So who was to blame? First, those who fired the guns. And who were they? Men and youths who, as likely as not, had recently attended church schools. Shooting from the hip, the Dean raked not only the -TV and cinema screens of the world for glorifying violence, but also the UN and the World Council of Churches who each paraded 'a pseudo-morality which, like all half-truths, is more dangerous than the lie direct'. But really all the churches were to blame for failing to defeat the 'satanic forces' of Communism by means of prayer, praise and religious witness.

Even though the Canon Press sold 38,000 copies of the sermon and a record company sold 25,000 discs (for which the Dean was awarded a golden disc), he describes 'A Deafening Silence' as 'the most disastrous failure of my whole ministry'. Why? Because the brother canons of the Cathedral were angry about it; because nonconformists accused him of violating his own ban on political sermons.