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4 Finns Among 5 Killed in Private Plane Crash in Zimbabwe

FILE: Rescuers stand amid the wreckage of a private chartered plane that crashed.
FILE: Rescuers stand amid the wreckage of a private chartered plane that crashed.

HELSINKI (Reuters) - Four Finnish citizens are believed to have been among five people who died in a plane crash in Zimbabwe on Friday, their companies and Finland’s foreign ministry said.

The plane crashed near Masvingo, the ministry said.

Finnish pulp and paper maker UPM said Heikki Vappula, 51, executive vice president of UPM Biorefining, appeared on the passenger list of the crashed private plane.

“We owe a debt of gratitude to Heikki who was a visionary and inspiring executive... His insights and energy will be greatly missed,” UPM Chief Executive Jussi Pesonen said in a statement.

Lassila & Tikanoja CEO Pekka Ojanpaa, 52, was also among the victims, the environmental and support services firm said.

“Pekka served as President and CEO of Lassila & Tikanoja for seven years... Our deepest condolences to Pekka’s family and closest ones in this time of loss”, company chairman Heikki Bergholm said.

Ojanpaa was set to leave Lassila & Tikanoja at the end of this month to start working as chief executive of another Finnish company, fibre maker Suominen Corporation.

The ministry said it had received confirmation from Zimbabwean authorities regarding the four Finns involved.

The two other Finns on the crashed plane were a 53-year-old technology expert and a partner of a law firm, Finnish media reported.

The four men are believed to have been on a private hunting trip, media reported.

Reporting by Anne Kauranen; editing by Jason Neely