UG choppers update: 8 rescued, 2 dead

August 14, 2012 11:50 am
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The eight soldiers were from one helicopter that crashed near a cliff in the mountainous forest and which did not burst into flames on impact.

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 14 – Two Ugandan soldiers were confirmed dead Tuesday as eight survivors were found having walked to safety after their helicopter crashed in Mt Kenya.

“After a long search, we have finally found eight survivors. The soldiers had walked eight kilometers from the site of the crash and we have now airlifted them to safety,” Simon Gitau, Senior Warden of Mt Kenya National Park said on telephone from Nanyuki.

He said all the eight soldiers were from one helicopter that crashed near a cliff in the mountainous forest and which did not burst into flames on impact.

“They are in good condition but they have been taken to hospital,” he said. The soldiers were being treated at the Laikipia Military base.

Earlier Tuesday afternoon, the rescuers found two bodies in one of the helicopters that was found still burning deep inside the mountainous forest.

“Our rescuers have seen two bodies in the burning helicopter, there is still fire at the scene and we do not know the fate of the other soldiers who were in that helicopter,” he said. “We also do not know if those were the only soldiers in it.”

The rescuers were using sniffer dogs and hikers to search for more survivors as they put out the fire of the burning helicopter.

Initial reports from Ugandan authorities indicated that each of the two helicopters was carrying seven soldiers.

With two found dead, and eight rescued, the fate of the four others remained unknown.

“We are doing our best to get them if they are within the forest,” Gitau said.

Four Ugandan army helicopters were headed to Somalia to reinforce Amisom forces strategizing to attack Kismayu when three of them crashed in the mountainous terrains late Sunday.

One of the choppers was sighted and seven soldiers rescued on Monday. Another had managed to land in Garissa successfully for a scheduled re-fuelling.

The aircraft went down in thickly forested mountainous terrain dominated by snowcapped Mount Kenya which is hugely infested with dangerous wild animals.

Kenyan Chief of Defence Forces, General Julius Karangi told reporters Tuesday that Ugandan authorities were constantly briefed on the search and rescue operation.

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