Voice of America (Washington, DC)

2 July 2014

Kenya: Flight Carrying Khat Crashes in Nairobi

Four crewmen were killed on Wednesday when a plane carrying the stimulant khat crashed into a building in Nairobi shortly after taking off, police said.

Television footage showed a charred tail and wings of the white Fokker 50 propeller plane ripped in half outside the smoldering two-story building housing several shops. Two guards at the building were injured.

The accident occurred about 4 a.m. local time at Nairobi's Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, the busiest airport in east Africa.

The Somalia-bound cargo plane was carrying khat, the leafy plant that produces a mild high when chewed.

Khat is big business in Kenya with vast plantations dotted around the country's central regions. It is grown and sold legally in much of eastern Africa where chewing the plant is an ancient social custom. But it is banned in many countries around the globe.

Regular flights deliver the leaves, which must be eaten fresh, daily to Somalia.

Some information for this report provided by Reuters, AFP and AP.

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