Agony for kin as divers fail to find chopper crash victims

Families of three victims of the Saturday campaign chopper crash in Lake Nakuru remain in agony after the fourth day of a search for their bodies failed to yield results.

The search continued as the Aircraft Accident Investigation Unit, under the State department of transport, began a probe into the cause of the crash.

Tuesday’s search was also interrupted by rains forcing divers to take a break before resuming their equally agonizing mission.

PILOT
Divers told the Nation the search had also been complicated by the dirt in the lake.

In addition, the scanners being used, they said, only covered a small area.

And at Umash Funeral Home where the two bodies retrieved earlier from the waters had been taken, families positively identified the victims.

Nakuru County police commander Hassan Barua confirmed that the two bodies were identified positively.

“One body belongs to Mr Anthony Kipyegon while the other one was identified as that of the pilot,” Mr Barua said.

SEAT BELTS
The body of the pilot, Mr Apollo Malowa, was transferred to a Nairobi mortuary.

The body of Mr Kipyegon, who was part of Nakuru Senator Susan Kihika’s media team, remained at the facility.

Mr Kipyegon is believed to have been sitting at the front next to the pilot.

Sources said the two may have loosened their seat belts explaining why their bodies had easily floated.

EVIDENCE
The chief investigator of aircraft accidents Mr Martyn Lunani said initial stages of the investigation will zero in on perishable evidence.

“Other investigations will include aircraft licensing, training of the pilot, history of the aircraft company among other things,” he said.

Mr Lunani said crucial information relating to the aircraft’s take-off and other technical aspects could only be known once recorders fitted in the chopper’s cockpit are retrieved and decoded.

“Usually we work hand in hand with the search and rescue teams so as to retrieve evidence that will help us with the investigation,” he said.

TOXICOLOGY
The investigator, however, said once the information is decoded, the manner in which it is stored determines how viable it can be for use in the investigation.

Mr Lunani added that the aim of the investigation was to identify the mistakes that occurred so as to avoid a repeat in the future.

The pilot’s body was transferred to Nairobi for a toxicology investigation.

The National Disaster Operation Centre desk officer Jonathan Kertich confirmed that no body was recovered, contrary to reports some body parts had been located.

Divers from the Sonko Rescue team joined the recovery operation on Tuesday.

The late pilot flew Magufuli, Museveni and Raila.

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