Wreckage of Uganda helicopters found
Posted Tuesday, August 14 2012 at 09:23
The wreckage of two Ugandan helicopters were found in Mount Kenya forest Tuesday.
The Russian-made attack helicopters were sighted early Tuesday morning by Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) officers.
KWS director Julius Kipngetich said one of the helicopters was burnt and the other was seen overturned.
"We are organising for helicopters to reach the two scenes of the crash,” he said.
A Kenyan military official told AFP news agency that the fate of the crew was unknown.
"We do not know the fate of the crew."
The search was temporarily called off Monday due to harsh weather conditions but resumed Tuesday morning.
The search team comprises officers from the Airforce, Army, Kenya Police, KWS, Kenya Forest Service.
Eastern PPO Marcus Ochola said the team extended the search to Ukasi in Mwingi, Masinga, Laikipia and Kora.
The recovery team eventually sighted the Mi-24 flown by Lt-Col Chris Kasaija that crash landed in Castle Forest, about 14km from Kimunye Forest Service Station on Mount Kenya.
A seven-man crew was rescued and evacuated to the Nanyuki military base.
The helicopters crashed in the dense Mt Kenya while flying to war-torn Somalia two days ago.
The three Russian-made Mi-24 combat helicopters were flying to Somalia to support African Union troops battling Al-Qaeda-linked Al Shabaab insurgents, who have vowed to topple the country's Western-backed government.
The aircraft came down in thickly forested mountainous terrain dominated by snow-capped Mount Kenya, Africa's second-highest peak at 5,199 metres (17,057 feet).
A Mi-17 transport helicopter, which had taken off from Uganda on Sunday as part of the same mission landed without problems in the eastern Kenyan town of Garissa near the Somali border for a scheduled refuelling stop.
Uganda provides around a third of the nearly 17,000-strong AU force in Somalia, and Kampala had said last week it would send its first combat and transport helicopters to the Horn of Africa nation.
The aircraft are seen as key to extending gains made against the hardline Al Shabaab, who have fled a string of stronghold towns in recent months, stretching AU military resources over a far wider zone.