Two KDF officers killed in Machakos plane crash

Tuesday, July 14th, 2020 00:00 |
Remains of the ill-fated chopper that crashed at Masinga, Machakos. Photo/PD/Mutuku Mwangangi

Mutuku Mwangangi and Zadock Angira

Two senior military officers perished yesterday in a helicopter crash at Kanyonga village in Masinga, Machakos County.

The Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) headquarters said the chopper, MD-530F, which was acquired early this year, crashed at around 11am, killing the two on board.

“This was a training flight. On board were two pilots who have been evacuated from the site,” said a statement from KDF spokesperson Colonel Zipporah Kioko.

Sources said the two have been involved in the KDF counter-insurgency operations, particularly in providing aerial support to ground troops.

According to Machakos Police Commander Karanja Muiruri who was among the first people to arrive at the scene of the crash, the officers died on the spot and their bodies were later airlifted to Nairobi.

The exercise, according to the police boss, took less than 20 minutes. “We received the reports from members of the public. We thank the members of the public for such co-operation,” Karanja said.

A herder who sought anonymity said he heard a whistling sound, which was then followed by a loud bang. 

On rushing to the scene, he and other villagers were confronted by the screams of one of the occupants who was crying for help. “His colleague lay motionless and appeared to have died from the impact,” he said.

The residents watched helplessly as they waited for emergency response to arrive.

However, by the time the emergency response team arrived at the scene, the other soldier had also succumbed to the injuries.

Twenty minutes later, two military choppers landed at the scene of the crash and took away the bodies.

Defence headquarters did not release the identities of the fallen officers, but it was established that they are of the ranks of Major. The cause of the accident remains unknown.

The ill-fated chopper was one of the six choppers acquired in January this year through Foreign Military Sales (FMS) Programme. They are used, among other things, for the fight against terror in the country.

According to US Ambassador Kyle McCarter the US is keen to support the ongoing modernisation efforts in order to realise the mutual security objectives in the region.

The chopper is a five-blade, four passenger single engine multi-purpose aircraft   that was on a training flight, according to Colonel Kioko.

They were part of an initial order of 12 light attack and reconnaissance helicopters that were meant to be used in the fight against terror.  

The handing over ceremony, in January this year, was attended by McCarter and the US Army Maj-Gen Michael Turello, the Commanding General of the Combined Joint Task Force in the Horn of Africa. 

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