Operation in 1997    
  • Crash in Gambia
    A tour operator located in Munich had organised a charter trip to Gambia on Thursday, 9 October 1997; departure took place in Frankfurt. Unforeseeably the 169 German passengers had to change from the chartered Spanish aircraft to another one on the Canary Islands. As only 162 persons could be seated in the latter, another plane was chartered for the remaining seven passengers. This aircraft crashed in Gambia. The next of kin in Germany were not informed about the fact that their loved ones had changed the plane. When the news about the crash was spread in the German media, the next of kin of 169 passengers theoretically had to be concerned.

    We were asked by the tour operator – who knew our institution and who had been well provided with information from the Foreign Office – to open our centre in their name.

    This was an operation which we did not run as Bavarian Police but under the designation of the tour operator.

    Das Personal in der GAST war hier freiwillig im Einsatz, also nicht im Dienst.

    Within the first five hours we received and treated about 400 incoming calls. Among them were about 75 so-called „hits“, i. e. the names of the searched persons were listed on the passenger manifest.

    We were able to offer good news to 68 callers, namely that the persons they were concerned about were on board the aircraft which had landed safely.
    Relating to the real victims, we ascertained next of kin of all seven of them on the phone. By these phone contacts alone we were able to get enough personal data to initiate the „official” informing of the next of kin by the relevant authorities.

    Of course GAST/EPIC does not communicate information about deceased persons by phone.

    In this case, the Foreign Office as an authority was needed to control the information. We were in constant contact with them. We operated as “private” enquiry office, but nevertheless controlled our findings via the BKA (Federal Criminal Police Office).

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