2 November 2017

Kenya: Search for Copter Crash Victims in Lake Nakuru Enters Day 13

Photo: Eric Matara/Daily Nation
This photo taken on November 5, 2017 shows documents belonging to one of the missing passengers of the helicopter that crashed into Lake Nakuru last month.

Divers searching Lake Nakuru for remains of three victims who died in a chopper crash more than a week ago have covered 50 per cent of the lake, with no success.

Today the search enters its 13th day.


The search team of 31 comprises divers from the Kenya Navy, the Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries, Bomet County Government, the Sonko Rescue Team and private divers from Mombasa and Naivasha.

Even with equipment said to be sophisticated, and reinforcement with more experts, the team has not been able to report any success for the last 10 days.

Only two out of five bodies were retrieved two days after the campaign chopper crashed.

According to National Disaster Operation Centre Desk Officer Jonathan Kertich, the divers have divided the lake into blocks and have managed to search close to half of it.

A member of the Kenya Life Saving Federation Sally Ndiri, who is leading the divers, said most of the private divers in the team are highly competent and some have won international awards.


"The combination of private and Kenya Navy divers makes it the most qualified team," said Ms Ndiri.

Geologists, who have been camping at Lake Nakuru for the last five days, have been analysing materials collected by the search team for leads

According to the team from the Ministry of Mining, which arrived on Saturday morning, aircraft are largely made from aluminium materials which is a non-magnetic.

They are hoping that there is small percentage of iron in the chopper which could help them trace the main body of the aircraft yet to be located.

In an interview with Nation on Wednesday, Mr Kertich said the team from the mining department had borrowed a more sophisticated magnetometer, which can locate the wreckage through GPS.


A farmer from Njoro, Nakuru County, Mr Luke Nightingale has volunteered two boats, sonar equipment and a map of the lake to help in the search.

The Ministry of Mining brought in the experts and a magnetometer to aid in the search.

Different organisations-- including Kenya Lions Club, Subaru Kenya and Team Gikaria-- have been donating food and drinks to families and the search team at the lake.

The Kenya Red Cross Society and a team from the Kenya Counselling and Psychological Association have also been offering First Aid and counselling services at the recovery site.

A geologist at the Ministry of Mining Henry Kamunge said their analysis involves collecting data recorded on the gadgets.

The information is then downloaded on their computers for analysis at the command camp.


Since they joined the operation five days ago, they have been gathering information from all possible leads.

He said they had to talk to witnesses of the crash who are mainly the rangers at the park and residents.

The county government has been supplementing the cost of fuel, with the speed boats consuming approximately 200 litres every day.

Former Naivasha MP John Mututho said the slow pace at which the search has gone was due to lack of commitment, stating that the exercise should have taken less than 24 hours.

He said the tragedy should be a lesson to the county government, noting that one of the deterring factors is the dirty water caused by the sewage finding its way into the lake.


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