Uganda Plane crash : Carrying supplies for peacekeepers in Somalia
African Union peacekeepers are among 11 people feared dead after a cargo plane carrying supplies to Somalia crashed in Uganda's Lake Victoria.
Ugandan officials said the Soviet-era jet caught fire shortly after taking off from the country's main Entebbe airport before coming down in Lake Victoria near Bugunga island. A search and rescue effort is underway but officials say there is little hope of finding any survivors. Three senior Burundian army officers were on board.
Rodney Muhumuza & Martin Ssebuyira
Rescue workers yesterday widened the exploration area as the search for victims of the Monday plane crash into Lake Victoria entered its third day without success.
Mr Ignie Igunduura, the public affairs manager at the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), said no bodies had been recovered, but by press time there were unconfirmed reports that body parts had been found floating near some fish landing sites.
A police officer, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak to the press, said polythene bags containing body parts had been taken to a military base in Entebbe.
CAA officials could not confirm this information, insisting the search was still unsuccessful.
Transport Minister John Nasasira said the plane’s fuselage, in which the bodies could be trapped, may have “travelled very far” across the lake.
“That plane could have been travelling at 300 km per hour [before it went down in flames]”, Mr Nasasira said yesterday, adding, “We could do with help in the search.”
Some 10 people, including two American experts, were taking turns diving under selected spots on Lake Victoria, but bad weather was slowing their efforts, according to Mr Nasasira. The victims include two Ugandans, a South African, an Indian, three Burundians, two Ukrainians and two Russians.
“It could take much longer, perhaps weeks, to locate and retrieve the fuselage, with strong lake currents impairing visibility,” Mr Nasasira said.
The tail end of the plane, a Somalia-bound Illyushin-76 carrying 11 people and cargo for African Union peace keepers in Somalia, was on Monday discovered by fishermen at a beach 27 km away from the crash site.
Mr Igunduura said the search was getting more complicated. “Of course we have a centre, but we keep going to different areas. The radius keeps growing,” he said.
Although the official investigation begins today, Mr Nasasira, citing the accounts of officials at the airport’s control tower, told a committee of Parliament on Tuesday that engine failure was the most probable cause of the crash.