Six police officers were yesterday airlifted to Nairobi after surviving a helicopter crash at Kaithe in Meru County.
Eastern Region Security Committee, including Regional Commissioner Isaiah Nakoru, Regional Police Commander Lydia Rigami, Regional Criminal Investigations Commander Jonah Kirui and Regional Head of National Intelligence Service Gilbert Magut, were aboard the chopper headed for Marsabit alongside two pilots when it came down minutes after take-off in Embu.
The chopper was being flown by Inspector Peter Kemboi, assisted by co-pilot Jacinta Akorot.
Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i received the injured officers at the Wilson Airport in Nairobi.
The team was headed to Sololo, Marsabit County, for a security meeting when their chopper, an Agusta Westland AW119, which is among the new fleet acquired by the police, came down in misty weather.
Meru County Police Commander Patrick Lumumba said the chopper had crashed due to bad weather at 8am in Kaithe village on the outskirts of Meru town.
Those aboard the aircraft were first taken to Meru Level Five Hospital and later transferred to Nairobi.
A source at Meru Level 5 Hospital said the injured had general body pains and had X-rays done before being airlifted to Nairobi.
Airwing Commandant Col (Rtd) Rodgers Mbithi said he and the pilot in the ill-fated chopper had left Wilson Airport in the morning with two choppers heading for the meeting.
“I have talked to the pilot and he and the others who were on board are in stable condition,” he said.
Mbithi was flying to Garissa and Wajir to pick up his team. The crashed chopper, a single-engine AW119, is among the new ones recently bought for the service.
The pilot first made an emergency landing in Murang’a because of bad weather. It had left Wilson Airport at about 6:45am.
The security team was headed for a meeting between leaders of Marsabit County and those of the neighbouring Wajir County after a week of clashes over pasture.
Marsabit leaders, including Governor Mohamud Ali, Marsabit Senator Hargura Godana and MPs had travelled back home on Friday to attend the meeting.
Two people have died in the clashes this week.
In an unrelated incident, four youth, including two university students heading home on a motorbike, were shot dead by bandits at Badasa, 12 kilometres from Marsabit town, sparking riots in the area.
(By Cyrus Ombati, Wainaina Ndung’u and Kamore Maina)