12 June 2018

Kenya: Torturous Five Hours to Aberdares Crash Scene

"A torturous paradise," these were the words of a team of investigators who climbed the Elephant Hill in the Aberdares on Monday to retrieve the wreckage of the Cessna C208 aircraft that crashed last week claiming ten lives" two pilots, eight passengers.

It took five hours of torturous trekking by the team led by Mr Martin Miguto from the homicide department to arrive at the hills' peak, the scene of the accident. Others in the team included forensic experts, a pathologist and journalists.

Located about 90 kilometres north of Nairobi via Limuru road, the hill is an attraction to hikers who visit for physical fitness or to view some of its most spectacular flora and fauna.

Harsh cold weather, steep terrain and bushes characterise the hill which can also be accessed by a longer route, about 100 kilometres from Nairobi through Thika road, south of the Aberdares. However, on Monday, the weather was friendly.

TEDIOUS TERRAIN

The journey started at 9.30am from Njabini and the operations officially commenced at the Aberdare Forest Electric gate, meandering through a tedious terrain to Aberdare Bamboo gate and also a junction to Murang'a county through the dense forest.

At Bamboo gate, four people including two senior investigators quit the hike, reducing the number participants from 51 to 47. It was a narrow trek path with stubborn bush flies. The team entered into acres of muddy bamboo challenge walk to end at Desparado (point of despair).

Several head counts were done at end of every stretch to ascertain the team was intact. After five hours, the investigators finally arrived at the scene of the accident and collected evidence that included parts of the plane and mobile phones believed to belong to the deceased.

HINTS

On Monday, preliminary hints indicated that the pilot successfully navigated the plane to avoid hitting a rock at the Elephant Peak, only to hit a second rock five metres away.

Tsuma Sydney, an investigating team commander said, the pilot may have planned to pass through the two rocks, but managed to navigate through one but narrowly missed the target due to poor weather and visibility. Pieces of parts of the plane, gloves littered the scene.

Detectives also assembled and documented thirty two pieces of exhibits to be used in establishing the cause of the accident.

Among pieces of evidence documented during the three hour exercise include fuel samples, biological samples, laptop hard disk, document, power banks and parts of the plane.

None of the eight passengers and two crew members of the aircraft survived.

AERIAL SEARCH

The aircraft, registration number 5Y-CAC, operated by Fly Sax, left a Kitale airstrip in Trans-Nzoia County for Nairobi at 4.05pm,last Tuesday but lost contact with the control tower at 5.20pm,on, before it went missing.

On board were the pilot, Captain Barbra Wangeci Kamau, First Officer Jean Mureithi and eight passengers -- Ahmed Ali Abdi, Karaba Sailah Waweru Muiga, Khetia Kishani, Matakasakaraia Thamani, Matakatekei Paula, Ngugi George Kinyua, Pinuertorn Ronald and Wafula Robinson.

However, on Thursday,36 hours after the accident, aerial search teams sighted the wreckage at the peak of the ranges, before they made their way to the place.

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