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Kenyan military plane crashes, killing 14

Written by: Staff
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MARSABIT, Kenya, Apr 10 (Reuters) A Kenyan military plane crashed into a hillside today and burst into flames, killing 14 people including two deputy ministers and four members of parliament.

''It is with deep sorrow and regret that I have received the news of the deaths of 14 members of a peace delegation,'' President Mwai Kibaki said in a televised address in which he announced three days of national mourning.

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

Witnesses said the Y-12 plane carrying 17 people on a mission to mediate between feuding communities crashed into the hill as it approached the airstrip in Marsabit, a remote northeastern outpost. It then exploded into a ball of fire.

In pounding rain, Red Cross workers placed plastic white sheets over bodies so charred they were beyond recognition.

Burnt, broken limbs were strewn over the mangled wreckage of the plane, split into pieces with only its tail intact.

Officials said the crash may have been caused by bad weather conditions including heavy rain and thick fog.

Three survivors -- including a provincial commissioner and two crew -- were airlifted to hospital in the capital Nairobi.

The group had flown to Marsabit to mediate between warring communities in the area, where conflict over pasture, water and cattle rustling is common.

Among the dead were six members of parliament including assistant minister for internal security Mirugi Kariuki and assistant minister for regional development Titus Ngoyoni.

The other legislators on the Kenya Air Force plane were from Marsabit, Moyale and the East African assembly.

Kibaki named them as Bonaya Godana, Abdi Sasura, Guracha Galgallo and Abdullahi Adan.

The other victims included an Anglican priest, two pilots, a police constable, and four government officials.

It was not the first time Kibaki's government had suffered losses in a plane crash.

In January 2003, newly-appointed Labour Minister Ahmed Khalif was killed when a plane carrying several ministers crashed in western Kenya. They had been visiting the region to celebrate the government's landlside victory at the polls.

REUTERS SRS HS2238

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