Cyprus Mail

Helios crash was a ‘punch to the gut’, lead Greek investigator Tsolakis says

Akrivos Tsolakis during a visit to Cyprus as part of his investigations

Seventeen years after the crash of Helios Airways Flight 522, which claimed the lives of 121 passengers and crew, Akrivos Tsolakis, the expert who carried out the investigation into the cause of the accident, told CNA that it was a traumatic experience a “punch to the gut” which he will never forget.

“I cannot sleep since then. This event has psychologically affected me. I tried to find a cure but for 17 years I carry this experience with me,” Tsolakis told CNA in a telephone interview.

Tsolakis who was then Chairman of the Greek Aircraft Accidents Inquiry Committee said in his report that the aircraft crashed because warnings that things were wrong had not been identified, the cabin pressurisation selector was in the manual position, the crew was incapacitated because of lack of oxygen and the aircraft ran out of fuel.

In his interview with CNA, he said that the period during which he led the investigation would never be erased from his memory.

A memorial service for the people killed during the crash took place on Sunday in Paralimni.

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