Wednesday, 6 June 2018

KENYA: Missing Flysax Plane Not Yet Recovered. Two Female Pilots Among Missing

It is more than 20 hours since the light aircraft operated by FlySax went missing on Tuesday evening as it headed to Jomo Kenyatta airport in the capital Nairobi.

Search for the plane, its crew and passengers is still ongoing.

The FlySax operated Cesna C208 craft, registration number 5Y-CAC, took off from Kitale airstrip in Trans-Nzoia County at 4.05pm on Tuesday.

The plane had eight passengers and two crew members on board.

The pilot and co-pilot were both women.

The light craft was expected to fly for an hour and 15 minutes and touch down at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi at 5.20pm.

The plane was last seen on the JKIA radar at 17.20pm, the time it was supposed to land , according to Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCCA) and FlySax.

It was flying at 11,000 feet above sea level, 40 nautical miles from Nairobi.

Kenya Wildlife Services (KWS), which is part of the search and rescue team, said there were strong indications that the plane went down in the Aberdares, Nyandarua County.

The condition of the eight passengers and crew is not yet known.

Search and rescue teams, whose efforts have been hampered by bad weather in the Aberdares, are expected to give information once they reach the scene of the crash.

Teams from KCAA, Kenya Wildlife Services (KWS) and the Air Accident Investigation Division of Kenya (AAID) were dispatched immediately the plane was reported missing.

Search in the Aberdares went into Tuesday night and was called off due to darkness and bad weather in the dense forest.

Hunt for the plane has resumed but aerial search is still hampered by fog.

There are conflicting reports on the flight from the operator, FlySax, and the regulator, KCAA.

Kenya Civil Aviation Authority says the Cesna C208 craft was last seen on its radar at JKIA at 2.02pm on Tuesday, even before the plane took off from the Kitale airstrip at 4.05pm.

But FlySax, in its statement, says the plane was last seen on the radar at 5.20pm, the time it was supposed to touch down at JKIA.

The other puzzle is the plane's flight path and how it found itself in the Aberdare region, which is considered dangerous.

Sources, speaking on condition of anonymity due to the gravity of the matter, say that the plane was to land at Wilson Airport but it was diverted to JKIA for reasons we are yet to establish.

The plane was to hit the runway at JKIA through Utawala direction, which, according to other pilots the Nation spoke to, forced it to take the Kinangop route.

The Kinangop route is characterised by bad storms.

Meanwhile two female pilots are among those missing after their plane is believed to have crashed within Aberdare forest, Nyandarua County.

They include the pilot captain Barbra Wangeci Kamau and her First Officer Jean Mureithi.

The passengers missing include:

- Mr Ahmed Ali Abdi

- Mr Karaba Sailah Waweru Muiga

- Mr Khetia Kishani

- Mr Matakasakarai Thamani

- Mr Matakatekei Paula

- Mr George Ngugi Kinyua

- Mr Pinuertorn Ronald

- Mr Robinson Wafula.

They were on board the plane that went missing as it prepared to land at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport on Tuesday evening.

The pilot and her First Officer are said to be experienced. The plane had made trips to Homa Bay and Maasai Mara on Tuesday and was up to date in terms of service.

Frustrated relatives and friends of those missing joined the search for their loved ones within Aberdare forest in Njambini area, Nyandarua County.

Some of the relatives drove from Kitale to the site for the search even as teams using a chopper for the mission cited bad weather as the reason for the delays in the job.

The Kenya Civil Aviation Authority had on Tuesday night announced it stopped the search due to bad weather, which minimized chances of survival for those missing.

Mobile phone signals from the Fly540 plane that went missing Tuesday evening was located in Kinangop area.

Rescue teams from police, Kenya Wildlife Service and responders concentrated the area stretching to Aberdares forest after signals showed it could be there.

There was no clear indication if there are survivors. The CS208 plane, registration number 5Y-CAC, was flying from a Kitale airstrip in Trans-Nzoia County to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport when it lost contact with control tower at 5pm.

The plane was about 60 kilometres from its destination and the two female pilots on board had contacted the tower when the contact went missing. It is believed they flew into a bad storm.

According to officials, the plane operated by East Africa Safari Air Express, a subsidiary of Fly540 left Kitale shortly after 4pm with eight passengers and two crew members on board and was to land at about 5 pm.

The two pilots were redirected to JKIA and were to land through Utawala direction. This, according to officials, forced the pilots to take the Kinangop route, which is considered dangerous because of the weather.

The airline said the plane was missing and that efforts by Kenya Civil Aviation Authority, Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) and Air Accident Investigation Division of Kenya to locate it were ongoing.

Others in the search mission included Kenya Red Cross, National Disaster Management Unit and Kenya Forest Service.

At present, the East Africa Safari Air Express has no knowledge of the location or condition of the aircraft or its occupants, the airline said in the statement on Tuesday night.

It urged relatives and next of kin to convene at Weston Hotel for more information and those able to call crisis hotline number +254 706 303 305. Some of the relatives visited the hotel.

Three Kenya Red Cross staff are fighting for their lives in hospital after their vehicle crashed as they headed to Njambini area in Kinangop to help with the search of the missing FlySax plane.

The three patients in critical conditions at the Nakuru General Hospital were with eight others when their vehicle collided head-on with a lorry at Kariamu area near Ol Kalou town.

The hospital’s medical superintendent Samuel Mwaura on Wednesday told the Nation that one of the patients suffered spinal cord injuries and requires specialised care.

Another staff sustained a fractured leg while the other survived the morning crash serious head injures.

The other eight patients suffered soft-tissue injuries and were treated at the JM Memorial Hospital.

The Red Cross workers were headed to Njambini to join a government multi-agency team that has been deployed to locate the plane.

Teams conducting the search are drawn from the Kenya Air Force, Civil Aviation Authority, Kenya Wildlife Services (KWS) and the Air Accident Investigation Division of Kenya (AAID).

The search, which was called off on Tuesday night, was yet to resume proper by Wednesday noon due to bad weather in Kinangop.

The multi-agency team was holed up in a strategic meeting at Njabini deputy county commissioner’s office.

The Nation counted tens of police officers and vehicles waiting for the cloudy and foggy weather to clear

A section of the search and rescue team was waiting to be airlifted from Njambini playground to the search zone.

The Cesna C208 craft, registration number 5Y-CAC, was flying from a Kitale airstrip in Trans-Nzoia County when it lost contact with control tower at 5pm Tuesday in the Aberdares.

The missing 12-passenger plane is operated by East Africa Safari Air Express, a subsidiary of Fly540.

Phone signals from the FlySax plane that went missing on Tuesday evening have been located in the Aberdares in Nyandarua County.

Kenya Wildlife Services Assistant Director in charge of Mountain Areas Simon Gitau on Wednesday said that they would concentrate their search in the Kinangop, where the signals were located.

Last signals, he said, were picked around Njambini area.

We are not sure how long the search is likely to take but Njambini remains an area of interest, he said.

Mr Gitau said they resumed the search, which was called off on Tuesday night, at 4am but aerial hunt for the craft is still hampered by bad weather.

Enough rescue teams, Mr Gitau said , have been mobilised but bad weather is delaying the search.

By 7am, a section of the search and rescue team was waiting to be airlifted from Njambini playground to the search zone.

A team from Kenya Red Cross was also heading to Njambini to join the operation.

In Kinangop, a security team is holed up in a meeting, with Nyandarua County Commissioner Boaz Cherutich and his team on their way to Njambini to join the search team.

The Cesna C208 craft, registration number 5Y-CAC, was flying from a Kitale airstrip in Trans-Nzoia County when it lost contact with control tower at 5pm Tuesday in the Aberdares.

The plane was some 60 kilometres from its destination, Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in the capital Nairobi.

The plane left Kitale shortly after 4pm with eight passengers and two crew members on board and was expected in Nairobi about an hour later.

The missing 12-passenger plane is operated by East Africa Safari Air Express, a subsidiary of Fly540.

A statement from the airline acknowledged its aircraft was indeed missing but combined efforts of KCAA, Kenya Wildlife Services (KWS) and the Air Accident Investigation Division of Kenya (AAID), had been going on to locate it.

At present, the East Africa Safari Air Express has no knowledge of the location or condition of the aircraft or its occupants, the airline said in the statement.

Relatives and next of kin of the passengers and crew can convene at Weston Hotel for more information.

Ms Jane Wangeci, a resident, said the response was too slow, and manual methods should have been mobilised to locate the craft.

We have been in the forest before. They should mobilise residents to walk in the forest instead of these delays, she said.

The relatives of the victims are waiting and must be psychologically tortured.

Mr Job Wambugu, a resident, said the area experienced extreme weather at the time the plane disappeared.

It was raining with a heavy mist by the time we left the offices on Tuesday evening, he said.

By noon, Senior County Security officers, led by County Commissioner Boaz Cherutich, were still holed up in a meeting at Njabini deputy county commissioner's office.

Also present in the meeting was Mr Pius Masai, the National Disaster Management Unity deputy director.

A source at the venue told the Nation that the meeting started at around 6am, while a rescue chopper from the Kenya Wildlife Service arrived shortly before 8am.

There is a heavy presence of armed police officers in Njambini, with four-wheel vehicles waiting to be sent to the forest.

The rescue team plans to use three entrances into the dense Aberdare Forest— Mutubio, Githobokonyi and Kiburu.

Mr Cherutich said a command centre will be erected at Njabini Boys High School, about two kilometers from the deputy commissioner’s office.

KWS assistant director in charge of mountain areas Simon Gitau attributed the delays to bad weather.

Mr Gitau said the last signals were located around Njabini area, and that is where the search teams will concentrate their efforts once the skies clear.


Tourism Observer
Post a Comment