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The body of a passenger on a flight that crashed short of the runway on the tiny Pacific island nation of Micronesia last week has been discovered by divers, operator Air Niugini said on Monday in contrast to its initial report that all had survived.

Air Niugini Flight 73 crash-landed into a lagoon off the Micronesian island of Chuuk last Friday morning after the pilot missed the runway.

Air Niugini, which has been established in 1973, is the flag carrier of Papua New Guinea.

The airline further confirms that it is assisting the passengers with accommodation and other immediate needs, and will continue to provide assistance to them over the coming weeks.

This has been confirmed by other passengers that the unaccounted person had safely evacuated the aircraft and he was seen in one of the local dinghies that were assisting with transporting the passengers and crew to the shore.

But Air Niugini chief executive Tahawar Durrani said the man's body was found by divers in the lagoon on Monday.

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Air Niugini chairman Kosta Constaninou had said on Sunday that witnesses reported seeing the missing passenger board a dinghy as US divers and local residents rescued the passengers and crew from the sinking plane.

A Papua New Guinea accident investigation team flew to Micronesia on Friday, the Post Courier newspaper reported.

"As of 12:30 p.m. today, we are unable to account for a single male passenger and are working with the local authorities, hospitals and investigators to locate this passenger who was aboard our flight PX 073", Air Niugini statement said.

What caused the crash and the exact sequence of events remains unclear.

"We express our deepest sympathy to his family".


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