A Kenyan-operated passenger aircraft, with three crew members, crashed after hitting a telecommunication tower as it attempted to land in Mogadishu, Somalia, Wednesday, killing all the three occupants on board, police and aviation officials said.
Kenyan Police confirmed the accident, which aviation officials blamed on bad weather.
The Fly540 passenger aircraft, which did not have passengers, except three crew members, left Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport early Wednesday.
“The aircraft with 5.4 tonnes of khat, locally known as miraa, was cleared by the Police and the Civil Aviation Authorities in Nairobi to fly to Mogadishu at 4.53 am East African time,” a deputy Spokesman of the Police, Owino Wahong’o, told a local radio station.
National broadcaster Kenyan Broadcasting Corporation (KBC) quoted witnesses in Mogadishu as saying they saw the aircraft overflying the K-50 airstrip in Afgooye town, 30km South-west of Mogadishu, before the crash.
“There was a lot of humidity around the airport area, the plane circled twice around the landing zone and hit the telecommunication tower two kilometres away and crashed,” said Bashir Hassan, an aviation official at the Afgooye airport.
“We rushed to the scene but unfortunately, we could not find anybody alive,” he added.
The aircraft was said to be carrying a consignment of khat, a mild stimulant largely grown in Eastern Kenya and sold widely in Mogadishu.
Fly540, a domestic carrier launched in 2006, is owned by a Kenyan citizen and Lonrho, which bought a 49% stake in the firm for US$1.5 million.
The airline operates domestic flights in Kenya, targeting the frequently-visited tourist attraction sites.
The chartered flight to Mogadishu’s K-50 airport is the first major incident for the local carrier, which hopes to begin regional flights soon.
Somalia has no independent aviation body, and the country’s aviation needs are provided from Kenya, which was given the mandate to oversee the country’s civil aviation needs after it descended into anarchy nearly 17 years ago. Panapress.