UPDF soldiers rescued after helicopter crash
The seven UPDF officers rescued from a helicopter that crash landed in bad weather on slopes of Mt Kenya have been flown to Nanyuki airstrip for treatment.
The soldiers who appeared fatigued were smiling as they received treatment and drinks at the airstrip.
Kenya's department of defence has clarified that it has only identified seven officers who are currently being evacuated and will be given further instructions from their generals in Uganda.
According to the UPDF spokesperson, all the people on board are alive but the captain has serious back injuries. The body of the chopper is also said to be badly damaged but the engine is intact. Kulayigye explained at a press conference that the other two choppers were still missing and the fate of the crew was still unknown.
Two of the four helicopters went missing on Sunday as they flew to Somalia to shore up the final attack on the port city of Kismayu.The helicopters left a base in Soroti in Eastern Uganda Sunday for Eldoret with 28 air force officers on board.
"They landed successfully in Eldoret. They then left Eldoret for Nanyuki where they were scheduled to refuel before flying to Garissa. The choppers arrived in Nanyuki at 4pm. After that they headed for Garissa and were expected to land at 6pm,” Kulayigye said on Monday.
He said it was only helicopter number Mi-24 that landed successfully in Garissa but reported to have lost contact with the rest of the helicopters. The pilot of the third helicopter had radioed for help from the Mount Kenya region, but rain and poor weather conditions are hampering rescue efforts.
Last week the Uganda People’s Defence Air Force for the first time sent a contingent of ace pilots to support the ongoing AU peace operations in Somalia.
The air force would provide aerial escort for convoys, reconnaissance operations along the supply routes, medical evacuation, air search and rescue as well as aerial combat against the al-Shabaab in Mogadishu.
The contingent of airmen and women and helicopters was flagged off by the chief of defence forces Gen. Aronda Nyakairima and the commander of the air force Gen. Jim Owoyesigire.
Aronda handed over the AU flag to the contingent commander Lt. Col. Chris Kaija.
Then, Gen. Owoyesigire said that the utility helicopters would be used to support the ground troops in line with the unapproved mandate for troops deployed in Somalia under the African Mission in Somalia (AMISOM).
Ugandan troops form the backbone of the AMISOM in Somalia.
Source: By Vision Reporter, (newvision.co.ug) News - 16 May 2013
Photo: The Uganda People’s Defence Air Force Air Wing Mil Mi-24V Attack Helicopter (Photo by www.airliners.net)