|A chopper belonging to British Army made an emergency landing in Mt Kenya Forest after it developed mechanical problems. Its four occupants were slightly injured. (Photo: John Gathua/ Standard)|
Nyeri, Kenya: Four British Army soldiers escaped death narrowly after a helicopter they were flying in developed mechanical problems and landed deep inside Mt Kenya Forest.
The chopper was flying within Gathiuru section of Mt Kenya Forest, when according to sources, lost one of its rear blades.
Ms Salome Mwenda, who was in her farm in Gathiuru forest reserve said she saw the jungle green chopper hovering over the forest, before they heard it produce a strange sound.
"We had to stop harvesting potatoes since the sound was too loud. We then discovered that it was nowhere to be seen, even the engine stopped after a few minutes," said Mwenda.
Salome and her fellow farmers then walked towards the direction where they found it perched deep inside the forest and in a clear ground.
Mr Marete Ringera, the Kiamathaga Ward Representative said the four, three males and a female, were undergoing flying lessons, when the chopper lost one of its rear blades.
"They were unable to control the chopper and they decided to make an emergency landing within the forest," said Ringera.
But there was confusion over the fate of the four, as Ringera claimed they were slightly injured and taken to an unidentified hospital, while Kieni East OCPD Mr Ancent Kaloki dismissed the claims saying there were no casualties.
"The chopper did not crash, it just developed some mechanical problems while airborne and the pilot decided to land. Nobody was injured in the incident,” said Kaloki.
He said British Army officials were informed and immediately, alongside the police, moved to the scene.
"We secured the area and our officers will guard the chopper overnight before engineers arrive and repair it," said Kaloki.
When we arrived at the scene at around 6pm Thursday, we found some British Army soldiers guarding the scene.
The area was sealed off from journalists and members of the public, with one of the soldiers directing us to seek information from the British Army Training Units (Batuk) Press Officer in Nanyuki.
"We do not have any information to give. Contact our press officer in Nanyuki for more details, but you can take photos from outside the sealed off area," the soldier who declined to identify himself told our crew.
But efforts to contact Major Jo Panayiotou, a media relations officer at Batuk were fruitless as her mobile phone went unanswered.
At the scene, the chopper was sandwiched between some huge shrubs-on its rear side-with an electric fence barely two feet from its front.
The British soldiers had also erected some tents at the scene.
And at 6.25pm, G4S security officers arrived at the scene from their Nanyuki office with some sniffer dogs.