Kenyan pilot and crew die in crash
Published on May 4, 2008, 12:00 am
By Brian Adero
A Kenyan pilot and his two-crew members are among 22 people who died in a plane crash in Southern Sudan on Thursday.
It was also established on Saturday that the ill-fated aircraft is registered in Kenya. The pilot, who worked for a local company based at Wilson Airport, was flying a plane chartered out by his company.
Efforts were being made to retrieve and identify the remains of victims, who were burnt beyond recognition, a Sudanese Government source from Khartoum said.
The remains were flown to the Khartoum, more than 1,000km from the crash scene.
Sudanese media have started releasing names of those who were on board but the names of the Kenyans are yet to be released.
On Saturday, the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) confirmed that the aircraft was registered in Kenya but declined to name the deceased Kenyans, saying they were awaiting official confirmation from Sudan.
“We have very little information so far because it (Saturday) was a weekend,” said KCAA communication manager, Mr Mwandikwa Mutia.
He said the authority would release a comprehensive statement tomorrow after communication with their counterparts in Sudan.
According to the Civil Aviation Corporation in Khartoum, a Beech 1900 crashed after reaching about 25 miles from Wau town, en route to Rumbek, killing all the passengers onboard.
The dead include a Southern Sudan Cabinet minister for Sudan Liberation Army (SPLA) Affairs, Lt General Dominic Dim together with Dr Justine Yac Arop, Government of Southern Sudan Presidential Advisor for Decentralisation.
The Aviation Corporation blamed the crash on two engines of the plane that failed “The captain contacted Rumbek airport tower about an engine fault calling for landing permit due to his inability to continue with the trip, however the plane crashed and burned before reaching Rumbek airport,” said an official from Civil Aviation.
President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga sent condolence messages to the Government and people of Sudan for the loss of the government officials and their nationals.
The President, in his message said he had learnt with regret and deep sorrow the untimely death of the minister and other passengers following the tragic plane crash.
President Kibaki regretted that the cruel hand of death had robbed the people of Southern Sudan an able and dependable leader whose contribution and vision for a prosperous country would be greatly missed.
In a statement released through the PM spokesman Mr Salim Lone, Raila said he was horrified to learn of the plane crash. He said it was sad that the tragedy had claimed lives of innocent people.