By Wangui Kanina
MARSABIT, Kenya (Reuters) – A Kenyan military plane crashed
into a hillside on Monday and burst into flames, killing 14
people including two deputy ministers and four members of
“It is with deep sorrow and regret that I have received the
news of the deaths of 14 members of a peace delegation,”
President Mwai Kibaki said in a televised address in which he
announced three days of national mourning.
It was the east African nation’s worst air disaster since a
light aircraft slammed into Mount Kenya in July 2003, killing
14 people, including 12 members of an American family.
Witnesses said the Y-12 plane carrying 17 people on a
mission to mediate between feuding communities crashed into the
hill as it approached the airstrip in Marsabit, a remote
northeastern outpost. It then exploded into a ball of fire.
In pounding rain, Red Cross workers placed plastic white
sheets over bodies so charred they were beyond recognition.
Burned, broken limbs were strewn over the mangled wreckage
of the plane, split into pieces with only its tail intact.
Officials said the crash may have been caused by bad
weather conditions including heavy rain and thick fog.
Three survivors — including a provincial commissioner and
two crew — were airlifted to hospital in the capital Nairobi.
The group had flown to Marsabit to mediate between warring
communities in the area, where conflict over pasture, water and
cattle rustling is common.
Among the dead were six members of parliament including
assistant minister for internal security Mirugi Kariuki and
assistant minister for regional development Titus Ngoyoni.
The other legislators on the Kenya Air Force plane were
from Marsabit, Moyale and the East African assembly.
Kibaki named them as Bonaya Godana, Abdi Sasura, Guracha
Galgallo and Abdullahi Adan.
The other victims included an Anglican priest, two pilots,
a police constable, and four government officials.
It was not the first time Kibaki’s government had suffered
losses in a plane crash.
In January 2003, newly-appointed Labor Minister Ahmed
Khalif was killed when a plane carrying several ministers
crashed in western Kenya. They had been visiting the region to
celebrate the government’s landslide victory at the polls.
(Additional reporting by David Mageria, Noor Ali, Jack
Kimball and George Obulutsa)