Wreckage of Kenya Airways flight 507 found in jungle; All 114 on board killed

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Monday, May 7, 2007

The latest information on the Kenya Airways information website states, "Kenya Airways regrets to confirm that its Flight KQ 507 from Douala to Nairobi has been located on a mangrove swamp, 20 km southeast of Douala, on the planned flight path." The website also indicates that search and rescue operations have been initiated. There are no survivors.

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

Flight KQ 507 had 8 crew members, 106 passengers and a flight engineer on board, and 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. 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, but never arrived. It left Abidjan at 11:05 p.m. local time in Nairobi.

"All I can say for now is that the wreckage of the plane has been located in the small village of Mbanga Pongo, in the Douala III subdivision. Access to the area is very difficult. We are beginning a new painful phase. Our task will be more difficult now, the task of recovering the corpses," said Hamidou Yaya Marafa, Cameroon's Minister of State for Territorial Administration, during a press conference.

So far only small portions of the plane have been found, as much of the plane is reported to be underwater.

"The plane fell head first. Its nose was buried in the mangrove swamp," said chief of meteorology for the Douala airport, Thomas Sobakam.

Reports say that many of the remains of the individuals on board the plane are dismembered and when rescuers attempt to recover the remains, they fall apart in their hands.

"It's devastating. I found one or two whole bodies at the start, but since then everything is in pieces. People were afraid of the bodies at the start, so I had to pick them up with my own hands, and they came apart in my fingers," said Captain of Cameroon's fire department, Francis Ekosso.

There were passengers from 26 different countries on the plane, not including the 9 crew members from Kenya (see list below). Kenya Airways has released the names of all passengers on board Flight KQ 507 (see external links below).

The area where the plane went down is reported to be thick with forest, and difficult to reach. Local Fisherman are said to have lead rescuers to the crash site after they heard a "boom" and saw "disturbances in the water."

"We are told the aircraft was covered by a canopy of trees, and that was the delay in sighting the crash site. The mangrove area is a very tricky area, access is very difficult. I think they will use trekking and boats," added Marafa.

Earlier the chief meteorologist for the airport in Douala, Cameroon, Thomas Sobakam said that "signs" of Flight KQ 507 were located, but also said that what was located was not wreckage. Sabakam also said that the reports that wreckage had been found were "premature."

The cause of the crash is under investigation, but officials say the plane took off in bad weather and are looking into whether engine failure played a role or not. At least one black box from the plane has been found, but its not known if it was the flight data recorder or the cockpit voice recorder.

The next scheduled press briefing will be on Monday, May 7 at 10:00 a.m. local time.

Nationalities of those on board

Countries highlighted represent the nations whose citizens were aboard Kenya Airways Flight 507 when it crashed.
Image: Robert. Updated by: Jason Safoutin and Marek Lugowski.

International passenger information centre

An international passenger information centre has been opened by Kenya Airways in South Africa where all questions can be addressed.
The public inquiry number is +27 11 2071100

Local passenger information centre

A local passenger information centre in Kenya has been opened by Kenya Airways at the Intercontinental Hotel where all questions can be addressed.

The public inquiry numbers are +254-20-3200353, +254-20-3200354, and +254-20-3274349.


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