New Vision (Kampala)

15 August 2012

Uganda: President Kibaki Mourns Chopper Crash Victims

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.

President Kibaki condoled with President Yoweri Museveni and assured him Kenya would get to the bottom of his military choppers' crashes on Mount Kenya as eight more soldiers were rescued.

Meanwhile the Kenyan army boss, Major General Karangi was quizzed by Kenyan parliamentarians to shade light on the three Ugandan military choppers which crashed in Kenya on Sunday while in transit to war torn Somalia.

The two missing choppers were discovered on Wednesday in the Mt. Kenya Forest, one completely burnt and another hanging on a cliff.

Eight Ugandan servicemen survived the crash while two soldiers were confirmed dead in another crash

Karangi admitted before the House Committee on defense that they had sanctioned the helicopters to transit the country.

He said adequate measures were put in place and green light granted for the helicopters to re-fuel in Kenya on their war to Somalia.

He said the ill-fated choppers could not fly directly to Somalia, adding that they had to make stop -overs in the country for refueling purposes.

Karangi told the MPs that KDF knew of the missing three helicopters at about 5pm on Sunday when one Ugandan soldier on board made a distress call using his mobile phone.

He said the crash site of the two aircrafts had been located, adding that one of the two missing helicopters was completely burnt and the other was hanging on a cliff.

Karangi dismissed allegations that the Army was slow in responding to the crash saying such incidents required concerted efforts.

Only one of the helicopters landed safely in Kenya's Northern Town of Garissa after refueling in Kenya.

Another plunged into the thickly forested slopes of Mount Kenya, about halfway between Uganda and Somalia, where the Kenyan authorities rescued seven Ugandan crew members.

The three Russian-made Mi-24 combat helicopters were flying to Somalia to support African Union troops battling Al-Qaeda-linked Shaabab insurgents, who have vowed to topple the country's Western-backed government.

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