Kenya: Army chief and several military officials killed in helicopter crash

Kenya: Army chief and several military officials killed in helicopter crash

Kenya's army chief, Francis Omondi Ogolla, along with nine other military officials, lost their lives on Thursday April 18 in a helicopter crash in the west of the country, President William Ruto announced.

Today at 2:30 p.m. (local time, 1:30 p.m. in Paris), our nation experienced a tragic air accident in the Sindar region (…) in Elgeyo Marakwet County. I am deeply saddened to announce the death of General Francis Omondi Ogolla, Chief of the Kenya Defense Forces », declared the Kenyan head of state, after a meeting of the security council which he had called urgently.

According to the president's explanation, the military officials were visiting the region located 400 kilometers from Nairobi to meet troops deployed in the northern Rift Valley as part of Operation Maliza Uhalifu, which aims to combat the groups bandits. The helicopter, an Air Force Huey, crashed shortly after takeoff from Chesegon.

William Ruto announced three days of mourning starting Friday, with official flags at half-mast, to pay tribute to the victims. An investigation was opened to determine the exact causes of the accident, which occurred in Elgeyo Marakwet county.

The local press reports that this was the fifth military helicopter accident in twelve months, the aircraft being often old and poorly maintained. In June 2021, at least ten soldiers were killed when their helicopter crashed during a training exercise south of Nairobi.