Saturday, May 05, 2007

Kenya Airways Boeing 737 missing in west Africa

Kenya AirwaysContact has been lost with a Kenya Airways Boeing 737-800 with 114 souls on board. Flight KQ 507 departed from Douala, Cameroon shortly after midnight, local time, bound for Nairobi, Kenya. The flight never arrived in Nairobi, and there has been no radio contact with the aircraft since shortly after it took off from Douala, according to a press statement posted on the Kenya Airways website.

The fate of the nine crew members and 105 passengers is unknown at this time, but indications are that the aircraft is presumed to have crashed. The Kenya Airways statement says:
A distress signal was picked up on the West Coast of Africa and a search and rescue mission, initiated by the Cameroonian authorities, was initiated this morning. The search location was 100km South West of Yaoundé. The search aircraft flew over the zone extensively at low altitude but did not locate the missing aircraft. The Kenya Airways country manager in Cameroon was part of the search team.

A coordination centre has been set up where most of the Cameroonian Government authorities including police, state police, Air Force, Cameroon Civil Aviation Authorities, ASECNA, the Army, National Intelligence Agency and Kenya Airways team are present.

A helicopter has taken off to comb the area from Eseka to Ebolowa south east of Douala. The area being searched is very dense equatorial forest and there is heavy rainfall reported which is affecting the search exercise.
The newswires are full of stories about this apparent accident -- and those stories, in turn, are full of speculation about what may have happened. Notice, I said 'speculation.'

Until the aircraft is located we will not know if there are survivors, and we will not have any concrete clues as to what happened. Whenever new facts emerge, I will report them here, but you'll forgive me for not adding to the din of speculation at this time.

For those who may be looking for information about crew members or passengers aboard the flight, the notice on the Kenya Airways website tells how to inquire, and provides telephone numbers for that purpose in several countries. Click here.

There will be much more to follow. Meanwhile, my thoughts are with the crew and passengers of Flight KQ507, and their families.