Swamp, forests hampering rescue: Indian mission in Nairobi


New Delhi : Darkness, thick forests and swamp forced rescue workers Monday evening to call off search operations to locate the wreckage of the crashed Kenyan Airways plane which had 114 passengers on board, including 15 Indians. There is not much hope of finding any survivors, the Indian mission in Nairobi said.

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The search will resume Tuesday.

"As darkness set in, it became difficult for the search parties to continue search operations for the wreckage as the place is thickly forested and swampy. The operations will continue tomorrow," an Indian High Commission official told IANS on phone from Nairobi.

A member of the Kenyan delegation, led by its minister Chirau Mwakwere, visited the site of the crash and described the scene as "horrifying". There was not much hope of finding any survivors, the official quoted the team as saying.

According to the Kenyan official, the fuselage was submerged in a swamp and pieces of the aircraft were strewn across a large area.

The search team, comprising Mwakwere and the Governor of Douala, among others, had to wade through waist-high mud to reach the site of the crash.

Earlier, Kenyan Airways Chief executive Titus Naikuni had said the Boeing 737-800 had been located in a mangrove swamp, 20 km southwest of Douala, a business centre on the Cameroon coast, where the flight took off early Saturday.

The crash site is obstructed by trees and was not visible from overhead, and the location is inaccessible to vehicles, Naikuni said.

The aircraft took off Friday from Abidjan the Ivory Coast and made an interim stop at Douala. The final leg to Nairobi was delayed about an hour by heavy rain. It off shortly after midnight.

Within 15 minutes of takeoff, the pilot sent a distress signal, but air traffic controllers were unable to reach the flight crew. Further rain on Saturday and Sunday hampered search operations.

The Boeing jet was just six months old and in perfect mechanical condition, according to the airline.

Most of those onboard came from Cameroon, India and people from several African countries. The crew was from Kenya.