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Kenya Airways Jet Crashes in Cameroon

Authorities in Cameroon have begun a search for a Kenya Airways jetliner that crashed with 114 people aboard in the southern part of the country. The plane took off from Cameroon's commercial center of Douala early Saturday and was bound for the Kenyan capital, Nairobi. There is no word yet on casualties. Katy Migiro has more for VOA from Nairobi, where Kenya Airways has set up a crisis center.

Kenya Airways chief executive Titus Naikuni says the aircraft lost touch with the control tower in Doula immediately after take off.

Naikuni says Cameroonian authorities picked up an automatic distress signal from the plane and they have sent helicopters to the area the signal came from.

"The latest information that we have is that a distress signal was picked up on the west coast of Africa and a search and rescue mission, initiated by the Cameroonian authorities, was initiated at 1105 this morning, that is Nairobi time," he said. "So far no report has yet been received from this mission."

The distress signal came from an area about 35 nautical miles south west of Doula.

Naikuni says there were 105 passengers and nine crew members on board the plane. He says most of the passengers were African, but there were also Europeans, Asians and one American on the flight.

Government spokesperson Alfred Mutua described the situation as tragic.

"The government has co-ordinated a team of officials and experts led by the Honorable Minister of Transport Chirau Ali Mwakwere to travel to Cameroon and link up with authorities there so as to establish what is happening and also lead the operation," he said. "The government will do everything to unearth the cause of this accident in order to prevent it from occurring again."

In 2000, 169 people died when a Kenya Airways Airbus crashed into the sea shortly after take off from Abidjan, in Ivory Coast.

The missing plane was only six months old.