, NAKURU, Kenya Oct 21 – The search for the five bodies of people who perished after a helicopter crashed into Lake Nakuru was suspended on Saturday evening due to poor visibility until Sunday morning, authorities said of the operation that was also aimed at retrieving the plane wreckage.
The wreckage was sighted on the southern part of Lake Nakuru by a team from the Kenya Navy that joined in the search also undertaken by the Kenya Wildlife Service and Kenya Police.
A statement from the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) said “initial indications are that there are no survivors.”
“There were five people on board—a male pilot, including three male passengers and a female passenger,” KCAA’s Director General Captain Gilbert Kibe said in a statement.
He said the helicopter is owned and operated by Flex Air Charters run by Captain Bootsy Mutiso, and dismissed some media (Not Capital FM) that it belongs to President Uhuru Kenyatta.
Three of the passengers in the chopper were identified as the media team of Nakuru Senator Susan Kihika.
The pilot is also known but the fourth passenger—a lady remain unknown, according to our Correspondent in Nakuru who obtained identities of the three which we cannot publish until the next of kin are informed.
The chopper crashed into Lake Nakuru at about 6am, shortly after take-off from Jarika Hotel in Free Hold estate in the town where it had been parked since Wednesday, according to area police chief Joshua Omukata.
An official who spoke to journalists at the crash site said the plane was going to be fuelled when it crashed into the lake.
Authorities said an investigation had shown that the chopper was scheduled to later ferry journalists to Ol-Kurto area along the Nakuru-Narok border for a Jubilee Party rally.
Omukatta said the chopper could have developed a mechanical problem causing it to crash.
Nakuru leaders—including Governor Lee Kinyanjui, MPs Kimani Ngunjiri, Samuel Arama, Jayne Kihara, Liza Chelule, Martha Wangari and David Gikaria joined residents to console the families of the deceased and witness the search mission.
It took eight hours to get a boat and divers from Lake Naivasha to assist in the rescue.
The boat for the Fisheries Department in Naivasha arrived at 2:30pm, more than eight hours after the chopper crashed.
Teams from the Nakuru Fire Brigade and the Kenya Red Cross Society had arrived hours earlier but were ill equipped to commence the search and had to wait for a team from the Kenya Navy.
The wreckage was discovered by choppers from the Kenya Police, Kenya Wildlife Service and Kenya Forest Service which circled the crash site where the tail of the ill fated plane was sighted.
Lake Nakuru is 188 square kilometers but has since swollen over the last four years extending to even the National Park grounds where the offices are located.