The tail of a police helicopter at the scene of a crash in Kibiku, Ngong Forest on June 10, 2012. FILE PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP
A look at major plane crashes in Kenya
Even as rescue efforts persist to find a plane that went missing in the dense Aberdare Forest on Tuesday evening, last year’s Lake Nakuru plane crash is still fresh in the minds of Kenyans.
The October 2017 accident happened when a helicopter carrying five passengers crashed into Lake Nakuru and killed everyone on board, leading to a multiagency search for bodies that went on for weeks.
By the time the search was called off, only three of the five bodies had been retrieved from the murky waters. Those who died were pilot Apolo Malowa, Nakuru Senator Susan Kihika’s aides Anthony Kipyegon, Sam Gitau and John Mapozi, and a student, Veronica Muthoni. Gitau and Mapozi’s bodies were never found.
In April 2006, 14 people, among them five Members of Parliament, died when their plane crashed in Marsabit as it attempted to land due to bad weather.
The MPs who perished in that accident were veteran politician Bonaya Godana, Mirugi Kariuki, the then assistant minister for internal security, Titus Ngoyoni, the assistant minister for regional development authorities, and Abdi Sasura and Guracha Galgallo Boru.
Six years later in 2012, then internal security minister George Saitoti and his assistant Orwa Ojode died in a plane crash in Ngong’ Hills, in one of the most high profile plane crashes in Kenya. Their two bodyguards Thomas Murimi and Joshua Tongei and the two pilots flying the plane Nancy Gituanja and Luke Oyugi also died.
Their ill-fated flight took off from Wilson Airport in Nairobi and was headed to Ojode’s Ndiwa Constituency for a fundraising.
A committee set by then President Mwai Kibaki to investigate the crash ruled that it was an accident but critics said that the findings of the committee were suspect and raised questions about the presence of carbon monoxide in the pilots’ lungs and about whether or not Prof Saitoti died before the crash, suggesting foul play.
But before Prof Saitoti died at Ngong’ Hills, another prominent minister met his death in the same way at the same location. In 1978, then agriculture minister Bruce Mackenzie, the only white person in founding president Jomo Kenyatta’s cabinet, was killed when a plane he was traveling in crashed in the Ngong’ Hills.
Mackenzie was widely believed to be a spy for the British and Israeli governments and his death was suspected to be at the hands of Ugandan secret agents who planted a bomb in his plane causing it to explode mid-flight.
Kenya’s aviation sector has been relatively safe, with the country’s national carrier, Kenya Airways, suffering only two mass casualty plane crashes in its history.
In January 2000, flight KQ431 flying the Abidjan-Lagos-Nairobi route crashed into the Atlantic Ocean minutes after take-off from Cote d’Ivoire killing 169 people, leaving only 10 survivors. Investigations showed that the plane developed mechanical complications putting it into a nose dive, and the pilots could not right it.
Then in 2007, flight KQ507 also flying from Abidjan with a stopover in Douala then onwards to Nairobi crashed into a swamp right after take-off and killed all 114 people on board.
The highest fatality number from a plane crash on Kenyan soil has been the 1992 accident where 46 people, among them 20 servicemen, died when their military helicopter crashed in Kaloleni. Six more soldiers on the ground were also killed in that accident.
Source: Daily Nation