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5 Senior Politicians Among Those Killed in Kenya Air Crash


A military aircraft carrying government officials crashed into a hillside and burst into flames near a game park in northern Kenya, killing at least 14 people.

Among the passengers were Kenya's assistant minister of internal security and four members of parliament, one of who was deputy leader of the official opposition. At least 17 people were aboard the aircraft, but some media reports quoted officials as saying 18 passengers were on board.

Survivors were flown more than 400 kilometers south to the capital, Nairobi, for treatment.

Farid AbdulKadir is the Kenyan Red Cross Society's head of disaster operations.

"This morning our staff and volunteers in Marsabit spotted a plane going down. They were there around five minutes after the plane went down," he announced. "Four people were thrown out of the plane when it crashed. Our people were there, but of course the plane was on fire. First of all they had to put off the fire before they were able to bring the people out."

Following the morning accident, defense minister Njenga Karume issued a statement saying that a Y-12 military aircraft flying from Nairobi to the northern Kenyan town of Marsabit crashed as it approached the Marsabit airstrip. He said a search and rescue team had been dispatched.

It is believed that heavy rain and thick fog may have contributed to the crash.

The group of politicians and local officials were on their way to a meeting to mediate between groups clashing over access to water, pasture, and other resources.

Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki issued a statement saying he received the news with shock and disbelief, especially because the group was on a peace mission. Parliament has been suspended until the burial of the five lawmakers.

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