Eurocopter experts helping in Kenya crash probe
6/11/2012 1:20:13 PM -
NAIROBI (AFP) - Eurocopter, the manufacturer of civil and military helicopters, said Monday it has deployed experts to help in the probe into the crash of one of its aircraft that killed six people including two Kenyan ministers.
"Eurocopter has mobilised a team of experts to assist and support the Kenyan authorities, which will conduct an investigation into the accident," the company said in a statement.
The manufacturer, based at Marignane in the south of France, confirmed that the aircraft, an AS350 B3e, was built in 2011 and delivered to the Kenya police last December.
"The helicopter had logged about 230 flight hours since new and was last serviced at the end of May 2012," said the company, which is 100% owned by the European aeronautics and defence group EADS.
The crash, which happened Sunday morning in a mountainous area on the outskirts of Nairobi, killed Internal Security Minister George Saitoti, his assistant minister and four other people.
Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki declared three days of official mourning starting Monday.
There were no survivors in the crash.
The police helicopter came down soon after take off from Nairobi's Wilson Airport. Witnesses at the scene told AFP that the aircraft "hovered up there and looked like it was turning back" before coming down.
Another witness, farmer Ole Tolei, said that he had seen the helicopter "flying very low. It came down suddenly and we heard a loud explosion, and then it burst into flames."
This is the third of a series of air crashes that have robbed the Kibaki administration of top officials.
The most recent was in 2008 when a Cessna aircraft carrying two cabinet ministers crashed into a building in Narok, a town outside Nairobi.
In January 2003, just weeks after Kibaki's government came to power, a light aircraft carrying government ministers crashed in western Kenya killing one minister and three others. Three other ministers survived the accident.