Ministers Saitoti, Ojode killed in chopper crash
Posted Sunday, June 10 2012 at 22:30
President Kibaki declared three days of national mourning starting Monday. A statement from State House said the national flag will fly at half-mast.
Prime Minister Raila Odinga and Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka were among senior government officials who visited the crash scene and condoled with the bereaved families.
“We are yet to establish the cause of the accident, but investigations have been launched and the public will be informed about the findings,” Mr Odinga said.
Mr Musyoka described the death of Prof Saitoti and Mr Ojodeh as unbelievable and very painful.
“I have worked closely with Prof Saitoti for more than 20 years and I know he was trustworthy, dependable and fiercely patriotic. A man who could not hesitate to put the interests of the country ahead of his own,” said the Vice President.
Defence assistant minister Joseph Nkaissery and Narok South MP Nkoidila ole Lankas shed tears after seeing the wreckage and the bodies being transferred to mortuary.
Mr Nkaissery, who is also the Kajiado Central MP, said he had lost a great friend and colleague.
Last evening, Eurocopter Southern Africa — the manufacturers of the ill-fated helicopter said they were shocked by the tragedy and had dispatched a team of experts to assist the Kenyan authorities in investigation into the accident.
“On behalf of all of us at Eurocopter, we extend our sympathy and sincere condolences to the loved ones, and colleagues of the passengers and crew and to all Kenyans on their tragic loss,” said the chief executive Mr Fabrice Cagnat in a statement.
Mr Cagnat said the chopper was built in 2011 and delivered to the Kenya Police last December. It had logged about 230 flight hours and was last serviced at the end of May 2012.
Meanwhile, police had a hard time controlling the crowd after people living neat the forest jammed the crash scene. One of them, Mr Leonard Njoroge, said he feared the helicopter would crash into his house.
“I was with my family at home. We saw the plane swaying and even thought it could hit our house. It proceeded for about one and half kilometres before crashing,” Mr Njoroge said.
He said it burst into flames on impact. “We tried to extinguish the fire but the bodies were already badly burnt. Other people came and I went back to bring my camera,” Mr Njoroge said.
Others said they saw a ball of smoke and fire falling down from the skies and scampered for safety. “The chopper was filled with smoke before it crashed. I heard two explosions as it went up in flames,” said Rose Kwamboka.
Mr Muchiri Nyaga said their was low visibility and the area was covered by a blanket of fog. “The plane produced a funny sound then it stopped suddenly and tumbled down. There was heavy fog. People started screaming for help when we got there those on board were already dead,” he said.