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Remains of the victims of the KDF chopper crash arrive in Nairobi

Remains of the victims of the KDF chopper crash arrive in Nairobi

The nation mourns the loss of 10 Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) members after a helicopter accident claimed their lives in Elgeyo Marakwet County. The bodies of the victims arrived in Nairobi Thursday night, marking the beginning of a somber period for their families and the country.

At the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport’s Embakasi military hangar, a poignant prayer service was held as the bodies were received. The atmosphere was heavy with grief as loved ones and fellow servicemen gathered to pay their respects.

Subsequently, the bodies were transported to Forces Memorial Hospital for preservation, a solemn procession that stretched past midnight, a testament to the gravity of the tragedy.

Friday brought the heart-wrenching task of identification and possible burial for two families who lost their loved ones in the accident. Following Islamic rites, these families began the process of bidding farewell to those they cherished.

The cause of the crash remains a mystery, shrouding the incident in questions and sorrow. However, a team of experts was swiftly dispatched to the scene on Friday to initiate a thorough investigation, as confirmed by officials close to the matter.

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President William Ruto, speaking with a heavy heart, confirmed the devastating news and revealed that Chief of Defence Forces Francis Ogolla was among those who tragically lost their lives in the accident. He further disclosed that two military officials survived the crash and are currently under medical care in Nairobi.

The incident, which occurred around 2.20 pm, claimed the lives of nine other esteemed officers. The fallen heroes include Brigadier Swaleh Saidi, Colonel Duncan Keitany, Lieutenant Colonel David Sawe, Major George Benson Magondu (who also served as the pilot), Captain Sorah Mohamed, Captain Hillary Litali, Senior Sergeant John Kinywa Mureithi, Sergeant Cliffonce Omondi, and Sergeant Rose Nyawira.

In honor of Chief of Defence Forces Francis Ogolla and his fellow officers, President Ruto declared a three-day mourning period, urging the nation to stand together in remembrance and solidarity during this challenging time.

“In honour of the life and the distinguished military career of the fallen General, who lost his life not just while in office but in active military duty, the nation will observe a period of three days of mourning commencing tomorrow the 19th of April, 2024,” the President said in a televised address to the nation at State House, Nairobi.

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During the national mourning period, flags including the Kenyan flag, Kenya Defence Forces flag, East African Community flag, and flags of all military formations will fly at half-mast both in Kenya and Kenyan missions abroad. President Ruto announced that the Kenya Air Force has dispatched an investigative team to determine the cause of the helicopter crash that claimed Chief of Defence Forces Francis Ogolla’s life. Ogolla was en route to visit troops in the North Rift as part of Operation Maliza Uhalifu and inspect school renovation projects at Chesitet Primary School, Cheptulel Boys High School, Chepoton Primary School, Ksaa Primary School, and Sablimoi Primary School.

“As part of his working tour, the CDF had been briefed on the security situation by a multi-agency team stationed at Chesitetin Baringo County, after which he proceeded to the Kainuk Forward Operating Base in Turkana County, where he addressed troops, commending them for their resilience and operational successes,” Ruto said.

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