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Kenya military plane hits hill, 13 feared dead

Written by: Staff
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NAIROBI, Apr 10 (Reuters) A Kenyan military plane carrying legislators and other officials crashed into a hillside and burst into flames today, with 13 feared dead.

''We have retrieved bodies that have been burnt beyond recognition,'' Marsabit district commissioner Mutea Iringu told Reuters. Four people survived the crash.

It was Kenya's worst air disaster since a light aircraft slammed into Mount Kenya in July 2003, killing 14 people, including 12 members of a US family.

Officials said the Y-12 plane carrying 17 people crashed into the hill as it approached the airstrip in the remote, northeastern town of Marsabit before catching fire.

Local television quoted witnesses as saying it crashed in heavy rain and thick fog.

Rescue teams recovered four survivors -- including the pilot, a provincial commissioner and a district commissioner. They were being flown to hospital in the capital Nairobi with broken limbs, Defence Ministry official Cyrus Gituai said.

''From what people on the ground are saying, there may be no more survivors,'' he told Reuters.

District commissioner Iringu did not give a death toll.

The group was flying to Marsabit to mediate between warring communities in the area, where conflict over pasture and water is common.

Iringu said Mirugi Kariuki, assistant minister for internal security, and four members of parliament from Marsabit and Moyale were on the Kenya Air Force plane.

Colleagues named the members of parliament (MPs) as Bonaya Godana, Titus Ngoyoni, Abdi Tari Sasura and Guracha Galgallo.

President Mwai Kibaki expressed ''shock and disbelief'' at the accident. He added in a statement that the government had deployed two planes to help with the search and rescue mission.

REUTERS SHR PM1724

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