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Pilot was warned before plane carrying Citizen TV journalists crashed

The control tower at Nairobi’s Wilson Airport raised concerns before an aircraft carrying journalists crashed two minutes after take-off on Wednesday.

The air traffic controller asked the pilot why he was flying too low, to which he answered “everything is okay,” only to crash seconds later, according to one of the plane’s technicians, Mr Peter Kamau.

The Cessna 206 crashed at Lifespring Christian Academy, missing a dormitory block by about 10 metres.

After the 1.50 pm crash, the journalists struggled out of the wreckage, pulled out their equipment, and walked to the nearby Kibera South Health Centre.

PILOT SURVIVED

They were later picked up by ambulances and rushed to Nairobi Hospital.

The pilot and the co-pilot also survived the crash.

The journalists, working for Royal Media Services – Mr Mauritius Oduor, Mr Sam Ogina and Mr Joseph Njane – were scheduled to land in Kabarnet to cover a Nasa campaign rally.

“This tragedy reminds us of the sacrifices journalists make daily in their quest to keep our citizens informed, an effort we sometimes take for granted until an incident like today’s happens.

We thank God for their lives and we assure the reporters, the Kenyan media fraternity and the Royal Media family in particular that our thoughts and prayers are with them,” said Nasa presidential candidate Raila Odinga in a statement.

FLY OVER

Mr Nickson Masai Wanyonyi, a guard at the school, witnessed the accident.

“I saw it approaching and thought it would just fly over. But it looked a little bit unstable. It touched the powerlines and the engine went off immediately.

It then flipped before hitting the trees,” he said.

Mr Wanyonyi went on: “I closed the gate. We rushed there and smashed the windows. We struggled to get the passengers out.”

“It was so shocking but I thank God we are all safe,” said Mr Njane.

SOUTHERN BYPASS

Lang’ata sub-county commissioner Phillip Lemalasia led a team of security officers to the scene.

“I believe the pilot was trying to avoid hitting buildings at the school. If it had hit them, or the Kibera slums or the Southern bypass, then we would be talking of many casualties.

The experts and other security officers responded very fast and investigations have begun,” he said.

Security officers sealed off the school and kept at bay a big crowd that was trying to gain access.