Saturday, October 21, 2017

Airbus Helicopters H125, 5Y-NMJ, Flex Air Charters: Fatal accident occurred October 21, 2017 in Lake Nakuru, Kenya

A team of 10 geologists from the Ministry of Mining has arrived in Nakuru to help in the recovery of of debris and bodies of three victims of last Saturday's Lake Nakuru helicopter crash.

However, they could not start their work immediately as it was still raining.

The team from the Geology Department brought with them a magnetometer that will complement the rest of the equipment being used in the recovery efforts.


A geologist at the ministry, Mr. Enoch Kipseba, said the magnetometer detects any metallic object inside the water.

"We are expecting that the remaining material of the chopper is metallic and if detected it will lead to recovery of the bodies," he said.

On Thursday, a sonar was brought in to help scan for any object trapped inside the water. So far nothing has been recovered in the past four days.

"Due to the shallowness of the lake, the sonar can only cover a narrow area but with the magnetometer, we are hopeful that we will have results," said Mr Kipseba.


Rift Valley Regional Coordinator Wanyama Musiambo, who is also part of the recovery team, said they have so far acquired eight boats and more than 40 divers who are currently taking part in the operation.

"I want to assure the families we shall not leave the site until we recover the bodies no matter how long it will take us," said Mr. Musiambo.

He further said that so far they have all it takes for the operation in terms of equipment and expertise.

He said with the equipment and expertise having been reinforced, there was hope that the recovery mission would yield fruit.


Mr. Musiambo said the team leaders had decided to seek divine intervention as the search enters its ninth day on Sunday.

"On top of that we have decided to seek for spiritual intervention and we shall be having an inter-denominational service tomorrow (Sunday) on the shores of the lake," he added.

He said a number of churches have confirmed participation in the prayers.

The prayers will be held amid desperation in the search for the three remaining bodies of victims of the helicopter crash.


Nakuru Governor Lee Kinyanjui and Mr. Musiambo promised families of the victims that the search which entered its eighth day on Saturday would go on, dispelling fears that there were plans to call it off.

The ill-fated aircraft crashed early Saturday morning killing five occupants, three who were members of Nakuru Senator Susan Kihika’s media team.

It is suspected that the three whose bodies are yet to be retrieved might have fastened their seatbelts at the time of the crash and could still be trapped in the wreckage of the main body of the helicopter.

For the last four days, the search team has not reported any success in its mission despite spending over eight hours every day in the water.


On Friday, more divers from the Kenya Navy joined in the search and more equipment was brought in.

The body of the pilot, Mr Apollo Malowa, and one of the victims, Mr. Anthony Kipyegon, were retrieved on Monday.

The bodies of Mr. Sam Gitau, Mr John Mapozi and Ms Veronica Muthoni are yet to be found.

The national and county governments promised not to abandon the search until the remaining victims are found.

On Friday, Governor Kinyanjui remained hopeful the remaining bodies would be located and retrieved from the lake soon.

“We pray for the family and we are giving them proper counselling and working together in this mission,” he said.


The governor said the county has learnt critical lessons on how to respond to emergency situations and would work on a response strategy for future occurrences.

“We shall be working with the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) and other agencies to come up with a comprehensive emergency response system for better response in future,” he said.

On Saturday, Ms. Kihika spent time talking to families of the victims whom she described as sharp and hardworking young men.

“They worked very hard for my campaign until the last minute. Sometimes we went for a whole day without a meal but none of them complained,” she said.

She said she had advised them to enrol for various courses to secure a brighter future.


Counsellors at the recovery centre say those who have so far gone through the process have responded positively.

Some of the challenges being encountered by search and recovery teams are poor visibility in the lake due muddy water, a wide search area, presence of wild animals and bad weather among other things.

The operation involves personnel from both the national and county governments, Kenya Defence Forces (Kenya Navy) divers, National Police Service, KWS, divers from the Kenya Red Cross Society and the Sonko Rescue Team, Lake Naivasha Divers, the local community and relatives of the victims

A photo of Mr. Apollo Malowa, the pilot of the helicopter that crashed into Lake Nakuru on October 21, 2017.

This image shows John Mapozi (left) and Sam Gitau, passengers of the helicopter that crashed into Lake Nakuru on October 21, 2017. They are still missing.

Divers try to locate the area in Lake Nakuru where a helicopter crashed on October 21, 2017. 

 Veronica Muthoni Kamau perished in the Lake Nakuru helicopter crash.

Details are emerging that the pilot of the chopper that crashed into Lake Nakuru National Park could have been under the influence of alcohol.

The chopper had five people aboard, including the pilot, and the bodies have not been recovered.

Kenya Navy divers suspended the mission Saturday night to resume today (Sunday) morning.

Interviews with sources who had contact with the five in their last moments point to reckless partying which might have left the pilot drunk.

Sources at Jarika County lodge where the chopper had been parked told the Sunday Standard that the four checked into the hotel on Friday evening but did not spend the night there.

They left and sources at several popular joints in the town have admitted seeing them for a few minutes in their clubs.

Apparently, they were club-hopping sampling the popular joints in the town which are usually lit every Friday as revelers turn into party animals.

Impeccable sources said the team was last seen at a popular club along the Nairobi-Nakuru highway where 'they had mad fun' until around 5:30 am.

The club is a den of alcohol lovers usually frequented by skimpily dressed university girls  and old men ready to spend cash.

Sources at the club confirmed to a team of journalists from the Sunday Standard that actually the ill-fated four left there Saturday morning while 'looking drunk'.

“I had a brief chat with the pilot who was seated at the counter. He was drinking beer and appeared drunk. I called his friends to take him away to rest. He could not walk on his own and his friends had to hold him. They left the club at 5:30am,” a waiter at the club said.

At Jarika hotel, a security personnel told this writer the four were to sleep in the hotel on Friday evening before heading to Narok on Saturday.

"They were to spend the night here but did not do that. They came in the morning accompanied by the young woman," he said.

A Nakuru MP who was among the first to arrive at the Lake Nakuru National Park when the news of the crash spread told this writer: "You see what alcohol do, all this morning evil is due to alcohol."

Original article can be found here ➤

The operation to search and rescue passengers of a helicopter that crashed into Lake Nakuru on Saturday has been suspended.

Mr Pius Masai, National Disaster Management Unit's deputy director, said the operation will continue on Sunday morning as he called on the victims' family members to be patient.

"Due to darkness and safety for all, the operation has been suspended temporarily, it will resume tomorrow by 0630 hours.

"We appeal to the affected families and members of the public to remain calm," he said in a press statement.


The mission had delayed for more than eight hours, putting the country’s disaster response into serious question.

Aboard the 5Y-NMJ were five passengers, among them three members of Nakuru Senator Susan Kihika’s communication team.

The traumatised legislator had confirmed.

As at 6:30pm, the fate of occupants remained unclear after the search was called off.

The chopper attached to the Jubilee Party campaign team had left Jarika County Lodge in Nakuru Town shortly after 6:00am and had flown barely 30 minutes before it went down in the middle of the lake.

It is owned by Flex Air Charters run by Captain Bootsy Mutiso.


Mr. Sam Gitau, Mr. John Mapozi, Mr. Anthony Kipyegon, a woman identified as Veronicah and the pilot Mr. Apollo Malowa are still missing.

It has since emerged that the pilot and the crew may have been on an early morning adventure around the lake contrary to earlier reports that the crew was being ferried to a political rally in Narok.

Sources at Jarika County Lodge indicated that the crew had returned to the hotel at around 5:30am.

The sources also said that the occupants had been out drinking at the popular Platinum 7D joint the whole night before returning to the hotel and taking the ride.


Fortunately, it was a lucky day for five journalists who would have boarded the same helicopter later that morning to Oletipis, where President Uhuru Kenyatta was scheduled to address a rally before flying to Kajiado for another one.

They included Citizen TV reporters Jacque Maribe and cameraman Paul Chirchir who had spent the night at Jarika County Lodge.

Others were Jane Goin, Kiama Kariuki and John Nyagah of Media Max.

They said they have been using the helicopter to attend Jubilee rallies since May this year.


The journalists were shocked to learn about the crash as they prepared to be flown to the venue.

Ms. Maribe broke down while giving a live report from Lake Nakuru where she had gone after learning about the incident.

Ms. Maribe said the pilot was to refuel the chopper after dropping the first team before coming back to pick the rest of the group.

Witnesses said they noticed the plane flying very low over the waters before it crashed.


The search and rescue operation, which the NDMU said was being conducted by multiagency disaster management stakeholders, put both the national and county governments on the spot over their poor preparedness.

Nakuru residents, including families of the victims, had started thronging Lake Nakuru National Park immediately the incident was reported in the media and waited helplessly for hours on the shores of the lake.

Governor Lee Kinyanjui and County Commissioner Joshua Nkanatha were among those who first arrived at the park, and urged for calm.


Although they had arrived early, crew from the Kenya Red Cross could not do much as they waited for the rescue team, boats and apparatus from Naivasha, which is about 70 kilometres away and just about an hour’s drive to the scene.

The National Disaster Management Unit released its first statement at 10:22am, saying it had activated a National Police Service Chopper to support the Nakuru County Disaster Team on a search and rescue operation.

A police chopper arrived at 11am and flew around the lake severally trying to locate the signal of the chopper.


It was not until 1pm when the first rescue team comprising divers and wardens from the Kenya Wildlife Services arrived from Naivasha.

Its mission was to locate the aircraft before a retrieval operation could commence.

In their second update at 12:11pm, NDMU said it had activated the Kenya Defence Forces Disaster Response Unit (KDF-DRU) through the National Operation Centre to bring in divers from the Kenya Navy.


The Navy team arrived at around 4pm and proceeded into the lake.

Leaders and members of the public complained about the slow response.

"It is very sad that we have witnessed this delay in rescue efforts. We will push for training of divers as we have three lakes in the county," Nakuru Woman Representative Liz Chelule said.

Leisure activities such as boat riding, swimming and fishing do not take place in the lake, hence the reason why there are no rescue boats, a source at Lake Nakuru National Park said.

But Lake Naivasha has rescue boats.


Mr. Charles Chirchir, an eye witness, said the chopper was producing strange sounds minutes before it went down.

"There is a possibility that it might have been faulty because of the sounds it was producing," he observed.

Another eye witness, Ms. Caroline Maina, said: "I saw the chopper before it crashed. I thought it was touring the lake but upon enquiring I learnt it had crashed."

Members of the public were, later in the afternoon, barred from accessing the site when the rescue operation commenced.

The Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) in a statement denied social media reports that the chopper belonged to President Uhuru Kenyatta.


Director General Captain Gilbert Kibe also said the ill-fated chopper belonged to Flex Air Charters.

He said investigations are ongoing to establish the cause of the incident.

"We cannot give further details at this time," Captain Kibe said.

Original article can be found here ➤

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

A drunken pilot a Police Service with neither rescue boats nor divers, worse still a Wild Life Service without the same even though it is fully in charge of the Lake Nakuru Park.

A county government that's obviously sleeping on its job like a headless chicken.

An even bigger mystery: what flight school did the pilot attend?

Or is this another fake malicious story we are reading?

And worst of all how can a chopper owned or leased by the Head of State end up parked in front of some nondescript lodge?

Have guys ever heard of this 'Country Lodge'?

I know it is not a state chopper but I don't envisage a bunch of drunken journalists walking to within the sight of such a helicopter let alone fly in it after an all night drinking binge!

And how come no one is talking about how it arrived in hotel grounds in first place.

Was there a police guard on the scene?