The Kenyan Air Force says one pilot was killed and 11 other servicemen were seriously injured when a Harbin Y-12 II transport aircraft crashed on takeoff last week.
The incident occurred on May 12 at the El Wak airport which is located in Mandera county in the north-east close to the border with Somalia.
Kenyan Defence Force (KDF) spokesman Bogita Ongeri told Kenyan media that the aircraft, which had landed at El Wak airport from the Mandera air-base, was supposed to continue from El Wak to Garissa Airport en-route to the capital Nairobi but crashed after failing to successfully take off.
Ongeri said the army has no details of the cause of the crash as yet. “We don’t have details of the crash. What we know is that the plane had 12 people [on board] and was flying from Al-Wak to Nairobi. However, other sources said the aircraft had 17 passengers and crew on board including government officials and civilians.
“We can only speculate on the cause of the crash after the rescue team and our investigators have gathered the necessary information,” Ongeri told local media.
The twin-engined aircraft, which has a capacity to carry up to 20 personnel, was reportedly damaged beyond repair as a result of the impact of the crash. It was one of several KDF planes involved in security and surveillance operations against militancy and arms smuggling along the volatile Somali-Kenyan border.
The Kenyan government says an official investigation into the cause of the crash will begin shortly and warned it may be long before the probe is concluded.