Monday, May 07, 2007

Wreckage of Kenya Airways flight 507 found in jungle

From Wikinews

May 7, 2007

The latest information on the Kenya Airways information website states, "Kenya Airways regrets to confirm that its Flight KQ 507 from Douala to Nairobi has been located on a mangrove swamp, 20 km southeast of Douala, on the planned flight path." The website also indicates that search and rescue operations have been initiated.

Flight KQ 507 had 8 crew members, 106 passengers and a flight engineer on board, and was traveling from Abidjan to Nairobi. It made a stopover in Douala, Cameroon where more passengers got on the plane before it continued on its flight. The plane sent a distress signal at 2:00 a.m., just after it took off from Cameroon, but it is not known what triggered the distress signal. The plane was supposed to land at 6:15 a.m. local time, but never arrived. It left Abidjan at 11:05 p.m. local time in Nairobi.

So far only small portions of the plane have been found, but the search for survivors and bodies will resume on Monday.

"All I can say for now is that the wreckage of the plane has been located in the small village of Mbanga Pongo, in the Douala III subdivision. We are putting in place rescue measures. For now we cannot say whether there were any survivors or not. Access to the area is very difficult. We are beginning a new painful phase. Our task will be more difficult now, the task of recovering the corpses," said Hamidou Yaya Marafa, Cameroon's Minister of State for Territorial Administration, during a press conference.

It is not known if there are any survivors, but Kenya Airways says that there were passengers from 26 different countries on the plane, not including the 9 crew members from Kenya (see list below). Kenya Airways has released the names of all passengers on board Flight KQ 507 (see external links below).

"We have no confirmed information about survivors or any possible casualties," said the chief executive of Kenya Airways, Titus Naikuni.

The area where the plane went down is reported to be thick with forest, and difficult to reach. Local Fisherman are said to have lead rescuers to the crash site after they heard a "boom" and saw "disturbances in the water."

"We are told the aircraft was covered by a canopy of trees, and that was the delay in sighting the crash site. The mangrove area is a very tricky area, access is very difficult. I think they will use trekking and boats," added Marafa.

Earlier the chief meteorologist for the airport in Douala, Cameroon, Thomas Sobakam said that "signs" of Flight KQ 507 were located, but also said that what was located was not wreckage. Sabakam also said that the reports that wreckage had been found were "premature."

The cause of the crash is under investigation, but officials say the plane took off in bad weather.

The next scheduled press briefing will be on Monday, May 7 at 10:00 a.m. local time.

Nationalities of those on board

* 37: Cameroonians
* 15: Indians
* 9: Kenyan crew members
* 7: South Africans
* 6: Nigerians; Ivorians
* 5: British, Chinese
* 3: Nigerians
* 2: Central African Republic; Democratic Republic of the Congo; Equatorial Guinea;
* 1: Burkina Faso; Comoros; Congo-Brazzaville; Egyptian; Ghanaian; Malian; Mauritius; Mauritanian; Senegalese; South Korean; Swede; Swiss; Tanzanian; Togolese; American

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