Investigators trawl swamps for clues on Kenya 737 crash

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Boeing twinjet came down shortly after take-off, with wreckage found 6km from airport

Recovery teams have been forced to pump water from the mangrove swamp crash site of a Kenya Airways Boeing 737-800 to aid the retrieval of wreckage, after the aircraft came down on take-off from Douala in Cameroon.

Investigators state that the water level needs to be lowered by 9m (30ft) in some areas of the site, which lies just 5.4km (2.9nm) from the end of Douala airport's runway, beneath the intended flightpath.

 
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The 737's wreckage was located in mangrove swamps 48h after the crash

Sections including the aircraft's left wing and parts of the engine had been lifted, and the flight-data recorder recovered, by the time Flight International went to press, but the cockpit-voice recorder had not been found.

The aircraft had been operating the Abidjan-Douala-Nairobi route with 105 passengers and nine crew. Seventeen passengers had originated at Abidjan. None of the occupants survived the crash.

Flight KQ507 departed Douala at 00:05 on 5 May, but contact with the aircraft was lost almost immediately after take-off. Search teams, unaware of the proximity of the crash site to the airport, had originally hunted for the aircraft in the south of Cameroon around 150km from Douala.

Few details have emerged about the weather conditions at the time of the accident, but thunderstorms were reported to be in the vicinity, and the search effort was hampered by heavy rainfall, in addition to a lack of information about the precise location of the wreck.

Search teams were eventually led to the site, nearly 48h after the accident, by information from local fishermen who had heard an explosion, accompanied by a large disturbance of the water in an area of mangrove swamp.

Kenya Airways confirms the registration of the aircraft as 5Y-KYA. The jet was delivered to the Nairobi-based carrier in October last year, one of three of the type which the airline ordered in 2005 through lessor Singapore Aircraft Leasing Enterprise.

The loss of the Kenyan aircraft marks only the second total loss of a 737-800 in 10 years since the first Next Generation 737 completed its maiden flight.

The other accident involved a 737-800 operated by Brazilian low-fare carrier Gol, which collided with a business jet over the Amazon in September last year. Some 2,200 737NGs have been delivered in total.


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