Skip to main content

2 dead in Kenya helicopter crash; hunt for survivors continues

From David McKenzie, CNN
August 16, 2012 -- Updated 0051 GMT (0851 HKT)
The Somalia-bound Ugandan helicopter is pictured at Mount Kenya on Monday, August 13, following its crash the day before.
The Somalia-bound Ugandan helicopter is pictured at Mount Kenya on Monday, August 13, following its crash the day before.
  • The pilot and co-pilot of one of the crashed helicopters are confirmed dead
  • The hunt is on for five crew members who are believed to have survived
  • Three helicopters came down on the side of Mount Kenya Sunday
  • The survivors may encounter tough conditions in the remote and rugged area

Nairobi, Kenya (CNN) -- The pilot and co-pilot of a Ugandan helicopter that crashed into the side of Kenya's highest mountain were confirmed dead Wednesday but the hunt continues for five presumed survivors, Uganda's military said.

Two Ugandan military helicopters crashed and a third crash-landed on Mount Kenya Sunday as they were on their way to join a peacekeeping mission in Somalia.

The crew of the helicopter that crash-landed was found and rescued Monday after the pilot issued a distress call. The sites where the other two crashed were found Tuesday.

Those killed were named Wednesday as Capt. William Letti and Lt. Patrick Nahamya, who were pilot and co-pilot of the downed helicopter.

Kenya's bid for 2024 Olympics
Backstory: African Journalist Awards
Saving Africa's Lake Turkana
Open Mic: Kenya's message to the U.S.

"We extend our deepest condolences to the bereaved families of the departed comrades. Our hearts are with those family members whose dear ones we are still searching for," a statement from the Ugandan Ministry of Defense said.

Lt. Gen. Edward Katumba Wamala, Uganda's commander of army land forces, said Tuesday that 21 people had been accounted for after the crashes.

Kenyan military officer Brig. Francis Ogola said the team at one of the sites found "no dead bodies," but rather "items ... arranged in a matter that suggest that they have evacuated from that location and they are somewhere in the mountain."

This is cause for "good hope" that the soldiers and airmen will be found, Ogola said.

Conditions on the mountainside may be tough, however.

The survivors will have to contend with rugged terrain and altitude. Mount Kenya is the second-highest peak on the African continent, after Kilimanjaro, at just over 17,000 feet, according to UNESCO.

According to the Mount Kenya park service and UNESCO, elephants, rhinos, giant forest hogs and leopards are among the creatures that live in the area. The mountain sides are riven by steep valleys and the vegetation is alpine higher up, changing to bamboo further down the slopes, UNESCO says.

The helicopters were part of the first deployment of air support for the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) in Mogadishu, where Ugandan, Burundian and other African Union forces are fighting Al-Shabaab, an al Qaeda-linked group.

AMISOM said Wednesday that its operations in Somalia would continue despite the loss of the helicopters.

"At this time our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the bereaved, as well as with the people and government and security forces of Uganda," said Boubacar Diarra, the African Union's special representative to Somalia.

"We are gravely concerned for the safety of those still unaccounted for and continue to pray that they will be recovered unharmed," he said.

Odongo said Tuesday the Ugandan government and army would reassess their capacity to continue with the deployment of military air power to AMISOM following the crashes.

It had taken Uganda more than three months to prepare for the deployment, he added, with all crew undergoing U.N. training.

Part of complete coverage on
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 1526 GMT (2326 HKT)
Advocates say the exam includes unnecessarily invasive and irrelevant procedures -- like a so-called "two finger" test.
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 0009 GMT (0809 HKT)
Supplies of food, clothing and fuel are running short in Damascus and people are going hungry as the civil war drags on.
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 1801 GMT (0201 HKT)
Supporters of Richard III want a reconstruction of his head to bring a human aspect to a leader portrayed as a murderous villain.
February 5, 2013 -- Updated 1548 GMT (2348 HKT)
Robert Fowler spent 130 days held hostage by the same al Qaeda group that was behind the Algeria massacre. He shares his experience.
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 0507 GMT (1307 HKT)
As "We are the World" plays, a video shows what looks like a nuclear attack on the U.S. Jim Clancy reports on a bizarre video from North Korea.
The relationship is, once again, cold enough to make Obama's much-trumpeted "reset" in Russian-U.S. relations seem thoroughly off the rails.
Ten years on, what do you think the Iraq war has changed in you, and in your country? Send us your thoughts and experiences.
February 5, 2013 -- Updated 1215 GMT (2015 HKT)
Musician Daniela Mercury has sold more than 12 million albums worldwide over a career span of nearly 30 years.
Photojournalist Alison Wright travelled the world to capture its many faces in her latest book, "Face to Face: Portraits of the Human Spirit."
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 0006 GMT (0806 HKT)
Europol claims 380 soccer matches, including top level ones, were fixed - as the scandal widens, CNN's Dan Rivers looks at how it's done.
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 1237 GMT (2037 HKT)
That galaxy far, far away is apparently bigger than first thought. The "Star Wars" franchise will get two spinoff movies, Disney announced.
July 25, 2014 -- Updated 2327 GMT (0727 HKT)
It's an essential part of any trip, an activity we all take part in. Yet almost none of us are any good at it. Souvenir buying is too often an obligatory slog.