Kenya Airways jet with at least 114 on board crashes

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Sunday, May 6, 2007

Officials say that a Kenya Airways Boeing 737-800 with 8 crew members, 106 passengers and a flight engineer on board, has crashed in Cameroon.

Plane 5Y-KYA photographed in 2006. Credit: Terry Wade

Flight KQ 507 was traveling from Abidjan to Nairobi. It made a stopover in Douala, Cameroon where more passengers got on the plane, before it continued on its flight.

It is not known if there are any survivors, but Kenya Airways says that there were passengers from at least 23 different countries on the plane (list below).

Reports say that 3 referees heading to an African Confederation Cup game were also on the plane along with Anthony Mitchell a British journalist who is based in Nairobi, and Amol Chauhan the director of Parle Products.

"Flight 507 was coming from Abidjan via Douala. The aircraft unfortunately has not arrived. The last message was received in Douala after takeoff and thereafter the tower was unable to contact the plane," CEO of Kenya Airways, Titus Naikuni said earlier in a statement.

Reports say that the plane sent a distress signal at 2:00 a.m., just after it took off from Cameroon, but it is not known what triggered the distress signal. The plane was supposed to land at 6:15 a.m. local time. It left Abidjan at 11:05 p.m. local time in Nairobi.

"The distress call came from a machine, not a pilot. The latest information that a distress signal was picked up on the west coast of Africa and a search and rescue mission initiated by Cameroonian authorities was initiated at 1105 (0805GMT) this morning, that is Nairobi time. So far no report has been received from this mission," added Naikuni. The Cameroonian military is using helicopters to search the area around the Cameroonian capital Yaoundé, near the town of Douala, Niete and Lolodorf. Ambulances in Lolodorf are ready to treat anyone they might find during the search.

The plane is believed to be in an "area [of] very dense forest," said Alfred Mutua, a spokesman for Kenya's government. The United States is also assisting in searching for the plane.

South Province in Cameroon where Lolodorf is located.

Jim Proulx, a company spokesman for Boeing, said that the distress signal would have been activated "in the event of a rapid change in velocity." Proulx also expressed his sympathies saying, "we express our profound concern for the passengers and crew on board on the Kenya Airways flight that went missing."

According to Kenya Airways, bad weather is causing delays in efforts to locate the plane and any possible wreckage. "We are trying to get to the area of the crash, but the weather is really bad. We are getting help from the army," said Naikuni. Nothing was found during a search of the area by air on Saturday, but rescue workers are planning to resume the search Sunday morning. Because of the bad weather and heavy rains, the search has only been concentrated in the air.

Witnesses from towns near where the signal is being reported say that they heard a "large boom" and then saw a "flash of fire."

According to a Kenya Airways news release, a crisis management center in Embakasi, a location close to the airport, was setup to monitor the situation and additional details will be provided when received. Relatives of those on board the plane are being asked to stay at that location and wait for further details.

Despite the search, the TurkishPress.com, which quotes AFP, an unnamed official says that they have located the wreckage.

"The plane has crashed. We have located the plane ... and we cannot talk about it," said the unnamed official with the Kenyan Civil Aviation Authority.

Despite the AFP's report, Naikuni says he cannot confirm that the plane has crashed or if anything was found. "Until we see the plane -- until then, it's missing." Naikuni also added that the distress signal could have been triggered by something other than a crash.

The last Kenya Airways flight to crash was on January 30, 2000. Flight 431 was traveling from Abidjan to Lagos when it crashed into the Atlantic Ocean during bad weather. 179 people were on board and 10 survived.

Kenya Airways contact

As per a Kenya Airways press release, information may be obtained through the following contact.

Mr. Michael Okwiri
Kenya Airways Corporate Communications
E-mail: michael.okwiri@kenya-airways.com
Fax: +254–(0)20-823486

Nationalities of those on board

Countries highlighted represent the nations in which the passengers are from.
Image: Robert. Updated by: Jason Safoutin.
  • 2: Unknown
  • 35: Cameroonians, including 3 referees for the African Confederation Cup; Engelbert Effa, Martin Omgba Zing and Patrice Boungani Doda; Campbell Utton head of MTN Cellphones.
  • 15: Indians including the Products Director for Parle Products, Amol Chauhan.

Sources

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