Bodies of crash victim yet to be retrieved

A painstaking multi-agency recovery mission of the ill-fated helicopter and its occupants at Lake Nakuru is yet to recover bodies of four passengers on board and its pilot.

However, the search team on Sunday morning stumbled on parts of the floating debris of the helicopter and some personal effects that were found off the shores of Lake Nakuru.

Besides the choppers debris, the team managed to recover the pilots manifest which contains the helicopters movement log among other instruments the pilot uses on board.

The helicopters registration number plate and a first aid kit were also among other items the team recovered along the shores of the lake.

The search for survivors in the 7am crash that happened, Saturday, was yesterday night suspended due to poor visibility. The operation resumed this morning but by 2pm, no bodies had been retrieved.

The operation steered by the Nakuru National Park officers, divers from the Kenya Navy, the Red Cross and the Disaster Management Unit kicked off in earnest at 9am with divers following traces of oil spill .

Meanwhile, the Kenya Red Cross has set up a counseling desk at the park’s offices to help hundreds of relatives thronging the lake to establish the fate of their relatives who were in the helicopter.

The team led by the Parks Deputy Warden, Aaron Sang had also cast its nets wide in the lake using a fleet of motorized boats in a bid to raise prospects of finding the helicopters wreckage believed to be trapped in the muddy bed of the saline lake.

The team that is challenged with insufficient gear and divers called off its operation at 1pm today, to engage specialists in what was described by team leaders as a new strategy to comb the lake for the bodies and vital components of the helicopter that they said will provide the team with vital leads to the cause of the chopper crash.

A statement by Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) confirming the accident says the five occupants of the helicopter included three male passengers, a male pilot as well as one female passenger.

The Authority affirms that there are no survivors in the accident that occurred early morning yesterday.

Three of the five occupants of the helicopter are reported to have been bloggers hired by Nakuru Senator, Susan Kihika and were traveling to Narok County for Jubilee Presidential campaigns.

The statement established that Flex Air Charters operated by Capt. Bootsy Mutiso owns the helicopter contrary to reports in a cross section of the media associating President Kenyatta to the chopper.

The Authority says it has launched investigations into the cause of the accident.

Leaders in Nakuru County have called on the regional government and the Lake Nakuru National Park to invest in a joint efficient disaster management programme at the lake in a bid to avert crises occasioned by accidents at the facility.

Nakuru County Women Representative, Lisa Chelule, lamented that lack of a properly coordinated disaster management plan at Lake Nakuru had compounded what was set up as a rescue mission for the five passengers in the helicopter.

She noted that recovery efforts had been delayed for several hours after the crash since there was no equipment or skilled divers to undertake the rescue operation immediately.

Had the boats and divers been handy at the time of the accident a crisis would have been forestalled, she said:

The Member of parliament noted with concern that the rescue team from Nairobi nearly 200 kilometers away, had to source for motorized boats and divers from Lake Naivasha 50 kilometers away to rescue the aircrafts occupants who had been trapped for several hours.

She also called on the regions County Assembly to draft laws that will compel the Countys executive to set aside adequate funds for a disaster management kitty that will help residents acquire efficient equipment and train enough personnel to handle disasters when they occur in the countys four lakes to avert death.

Source: Kenya News Agency