16 March 2017

Uganda: Woman Survives As Police Chopper Blows Off Rooftop

Photo: Monitor
The chopper, which was "making a turn" in Mutungo in Biina parish, Nakawa division, was reportedly trying to avoid a cloud that had blocked the pilots' visibility.

Kampala — A woman and her two children on Monday afternoon escaped death after a helicopter flipped over their house in Biina, Butabika Parish in Nakawa Division and blew off the rooftop.

Ms Nampijja, now homeless, is being housed by her neighbour.

Narrating her life petrifying experience to this newspaper yesterday, Ms Nampijja said she saw a chopper coming down at a lower altitude and descending towards her house at around 2:30pm.

Upon sensing danger, she dashed into the house to rescue her children who were asleep but did not make it on time and out of shock, she got trapped in the house with her two children.

"We had not yet moved out when the helicopter blew off the roof. We cannot tell what had happened to the chopper," Ms Nampijja said.

The iron sheets flew off in different directions although none of her children was hurt by the falling debris.

Thugs, however, took advantage of the misfortune to rip off her belongings.

"I locked the shuttered door with the padlock but in the morning I found when thieves had robbed us clean," Nampijja said.

The Inspector General of Police, Gen Kale Kayihura, yesterday sent Mr Andrew Kaweesi, the police spokesperson, to ascertain the magnitude of the damage caused by their helicopter.

"I have come with our officers from our engineering unit to examine what needs to be done to repair this house. That is the message IGP [Kayihura] told me to come and tell you. It was our helicopter and we cannot deny that," Mr Kaweesi said.

Mr Edward Agaba, an eye witness, suspects that the helicopter might have lost balance since it allegedly rotated before it hit the house.

"It would rotate and stop in the air for seconds. It started moving at a very low height and we were all scared. We saw it moving as if it was going to crash-land," Agaba said.

However, Mr Kaweesi dismissed claims that the chopper was in a bad mechanical condition.

He suspected it might have been a "flying miscalculation by the pilot".

Col Ham Kaija, commandant Police Air wing and Capt Aziz Sentamu, who was flying the chopper, attributed the crash to bad weather.

"I was flying at a high loftiness but I realised there were clouds in this area that could not allow me have a clear view. I was forced to move at a very low elevation," Captain Sentamu said.

Col Kaija said Biina is one of the holding power centres for aircrafts before they are released to land. He added that planes are usually advised to move on elevated ground whenever they are uncertain of the weather.

Reconstruction

By press time, police's engineering unit had concluded that the structure needed to be demolished for a reconstruction because it was in bad shape. Mr Kaweesi estimated the cost to be between Shs10m -Shs12m.

Police chopper

Survivor. Ms Nampijja said she saw a chopper coming down at a lower altitude and descending towards her house at around 2:30pm. Upon sensing danger, she dashed into the house to rescue her children who were asleep but did not make it on time.

Andrew Kaweesi said: "I have come with our officers from our engineering unit to examine what needs to be done to repair this house. That is the message IGP [Kayihura] told me to come and tell you. It was our helicopter and we cannot deny that."

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