JEDDAH: A pilot forced to crash-land his plane in a remote and mountainous area of Saudi Arabia has hailed rescue teams for saving his life.
Sudanese Capt. Taha Al-Kabbashi was found wandering 3 km from the site where his plane went down following a major search operation in a rugged area of the Tihamat Al-Namas governorate, in Asir region.
The 68-year-old, who was taken to hospital for health checks after his ordeal, thanked rescuers and said: “If the same incident had happened to me somewhere else, I would have been dead.”
Al-Kabbashi made the emergency landing after his single-engine Thrush S2R-34 spraying plane developed engine failure. The aircraft belonged to a contracting company working for the Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture to combat desert locust.
Spokesman for the Asir regional authorities, Mohammed bin Dosari, said Al-Kabbashi’s plane had taken off from a ministry runway in Al-Qunfudah governorate and was flying to Al-Sulayyill “to carry out its usual tasks.”
The pilot was flying at an altitude of approximately 500 meters when engine problems started. “He began trying to make an emergency landing when the engine went out and landed on trees in a very rugged area in the mountains, far from populated areas,” Bin Dosari added.
A search and rescue operation was launched, but when teams arrived at the crash site Al-Kabbashi could not be found.
After landing the plane, the pilot had charged his cellphone and headed off on foot to try and find a way out of the remote valley he found himself in.
Rescuers continued their search for 16 hours under the supervision of a joint operations room overseen by the governor of Asir region, and on Tuesday morning found Al-Kabbashi 3 km away from his crashed aircraft.
Bin Dosari said the pilot was in a stable condition and was later taken to Al-Majardah General Hospital for further checkups.
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