SYDNEY: Australia mourned colourful mining tycoon Ken Talbot and his colleagues Tuesday after an African plane crash wiped out the entire board of his Sundance Resources company, plunging it into crisis.
The Foreign Minister, Mr Stephen Smith warned that retrieving the bodies could be "regrettably painstaking" after a chartered twin turboprop went down in Congo’s thick jungle at the weekend, killing all 11 people on board.
International rescuers searching by helicopter spotted the wreckage Monday before French military personnel dropped at the crash site confirmed there were no survivors.
Australian mining contractors will start clearing a track to the isolated and hilly spot at first light on Tuesday, Sundance Resources said. The plane was travelling from Cameroon to a mine in Congo when it crashed on Saturday.
"Our thoughts and our prayers are with all these Australian families and other families at this tragic time," the Prime Minister, Mr Kevin Rudd told Parliament.
Six Australians, two Britons, two French and one US national were on the twin turboprop plane chartered by Perth-based Sundance, an iron ore miner, because Talbot’s executive jet could not land at the Yangadou mine’s airstrip.
Sundance’s chiefs — Talbot, ex-BHP Billiton iron ore head Geoff Wedlock, Don Lewis, Craig Oliver, John Jones and John Carr-Greg — were in central Africa to visit the company’s operations and meet government officials.
"It’s the news we all feared unfortunately," Mr Michael Roche, the chief executive of the Queensland Resources Council on which Talbot once served, told public broadcaster ABC.
"This is a great tragedy for a loving husband, father, as well as the public persona, the entrepreneur, the industry visionary."