15 August 2012

Uganda: Rescue Mission for Uganda Soldiers

Photo: NTV Kenya
The helicopter that caught fire: The discovery of another body in the downed chopper has raised fears that all seven crew members on board may have died.

Rescue teams yesterday recovered two bodies of Ugandan soldiers from one of the ill fated choppers that crashed in Mt Kenya on Sunday.

The whereabouts of four other army officers remain unknown but authorities believe they might have been trapped in the third helicopter which was badly burnt. Yesterday, the team found two of the three missing helicopters that crashed and exploded at Moorland area of Mt Kenya.

The bodies of the two victims said to be pilots were discovered burnt beyond recognition inside the cockpit. The team managed to rescue eight soldiers, bringing the number of those found to 15. The burnt choppers crashed on Sunday at around 4:30pm shortly after they took off from Nanyuki Airstrip where they were fueling. "Two of them crashed barely a kilometre apart at the Upper Kamweti Southern Slopes off Mt Kenya which is 12,000 meters above the sea level," said a senior KWS officer involved in the rescue efforts.

It was a beehive of activities at Laikipia Air Base and Nanyuki Airstrip as six choppers were involved in the rescue mission. A wire cage used to carry the remains was tied on the side of one chopper. "Those who know about the mountain understand how bad the weather is. The rescue operation is however going on well," added Gitau.

Last evening, operations in the mountain were put off due to bad weather Operations are expected to resume today morning. "On close examination, we discovered that the soldiers were safe and lucky they contacted someone on the ground and we were able to rescue eight of them," said Gitau after they rescued of the soldiers.

He said that the rescue team marched on and discovered the other helicopter which was extensively damaged and burnt indicated that it had caught fire after the clash in the muddy fields of moorland. "When we came closer to the plane we saw to bodies on the cockpit which we could not extensively search the wreckage perhaps more bodies could be trapped inside," Said Gitau

He said that rescue of the soldier is being hampered by bad weather at the mountain but he was optimistic that they will be able to rescue and remove the bodies to Laikipia Airbase.

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