Two killed as plane crashes near village

Monday May 24 2004

By CYRUS KINYUNGU

A plane ferrying khat from Nairobi's Wilson Airport to Mogadishu yesterday crashed, killing its two pilots.

There were no other passengers on the plane, which crashed at Ukase in Mwingi District at about 7.30am, barely an hour after it left Wilson Airport.

The Let 410 twin-engine plane belongs to Blue Bird Aviation.

It left Wilson Airport for Somali's Mogadishu Town at 6.52am, carrying 55 bags of miraa (khat) weighing 1,500 kilogrammes.

The two pilots were burnt beyond recognition. The plane was also extensively damaged. Most of the cargo was destroyed.

Eastern provincial police boss Thomas Chigamba led police to the scene. 

In Nairobi, police spokesman Jasper Ombati said the plane developed mechanical problems.

"The plane developed engine problems before it caught fire and nose dived, killing the two pilots," Mr Ombati said.

It crashed at an open field near a village.

Mr Ombati said one of the pilots was a foreigner, while his colleague was a Kenyan. He, however, declined to release their names until the next of kin are informed.

Yesterday, a team of senior police officers, led by the Mwingi District police boss, spent the whole day at the site of the crash.

Mr Chigamba said experts from the Directorate of Civil Aviation and officials of Blue Bird Aviation, the owners of the plane, had flown to the site to investigate the accident.

A police helicopter was also dispatched to the scene to collect the remains of the pilots. The bodies were expected to be taken to Nairobi's Lee Funeral Home.