Early yesterday morning, a plane landed without authorisation at Anegada’s Captain Auguste George Airport, police said.
“Shortly after landing, a fire of unknown origin engulfed the aircraft,” Police Information Officer Akia Thomas wrote in a five-sentence statement provided to the Beacon at 8:38 a.m. yesterday.
“The blaze was extinguished by fire officers who are based at the airport.”
Adding that investigations are ongoing, Ms. Thomas said no further information could be provided.
Other officials were similarly tight-lipped.
BVI Airports Authority Director Kurt Menal told the Beacon that he was “not in a position to answer questions at this time, or any other.”
The territory’s air regulator, Air Safety Support International, did not immediately respond to messages yesterday. Attempts to reach the Anegada airport directly were not successful.
As a result, many details about the incident have not been publicly disclosed.
Officials, for instance, have not identified the type of plane involved or said if anyone was injured in the incident. They have not disclosed whether any cargo was found on the plane, and they have not described the damage done by the fire. They also have not said where they believe the plane originated, or how many people they believe it was carrying.
Flightradar24, an internet-based service that tracks most flights across the world, showed no aircraft landing on Anegada between midnight and 9 a.m. yesterday.
The incident yesterday was not the first suspected illicit activity at the airport in recent weeks. On Aug. 19, authorities seized a Cessna there carrying about 800 kilograms of cocaine, police said.
Officials were tight-lipped on that incident as well.
On the day of the seizure, police released a three-sentence statement announcing the incident and explaining that it came during a joint operation with United States authorities.
The statement provided no other details except to say that investigations were “active and therefore no other information is available at this time.”
On Aug. 22, Ms. Thomas sent two more sentences in response to a Beacon query, but her message included only one piece of new information: No arrests had been made at the time.
In a Sept. 1 update, the Police Information Office stated that “several persons of interest” had been arrested, interviewed and released.
“Officers have also executed search warrants on several properties on the island,” the PIO added at the time.
No updates have been provided since then.
In the past, the Anegada airport has drawn scrutiny for allegedly lax security.
In 2019, about four months after Andrew Fahie took up the post of premier, he described the airport as a potential national security threat.
He also called for a redefinition of the territory’s airspace “to include all the sovereign islands” — a step he said was necessary because aircraft were landing on Anegada with no communication with the control tower at Beef Island.
“What is happening at present is that persons are flying into Anegada without the knowledge of the [BVIAA], customs or immigration, and then those persons are using ferries as domestic travels to move from one island to the next,” Mr. Fahie said.
This practice leads to security risks and the territory losing out on fees, according to Mr. Fahie, who is now on house arrest in Miami charged with conspiring to important cocaine into the United States.
Shortly after Mr. Fahie’s 2019 allegations, former BVIAA Chairman Glenn Harrigan responded, claiming that uncontrolled airfields operate all over the world. He added that prior permission from the BVIAA was required for all arrivals on Anegada and Virgin Gorda.
“This system is functional, and although there is the potential for abuse, we do not believe it is as loose and uncontrolled as portrayed in the premier’s statement,” Mr. Harrigan said at the time.
Police have provided few details about the plane that landed without clearance and then burned at the Anegada airport yesterday, but they are asking anyone with information about the incident to call their Intelligence Unit at 368-9339.