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Wreckage of Kenyan aircraft found

There are no immediate information about the fate of the 105 passengers and nine crewmembers on board.

world Updated: May 07, 2007 15:45 IST

The wreckage of a Nairobi-bound airliner that was lost after issuing a distress signal shortly after takeoff from Cameroon has been found after two days of searching, said Kenyan Airways.

Chief executive Titus Naikuni on Sunday said the crash site of the Boeing 737-800 was in a mangrove swamp, 20 km southwest of Douala, a business centre on the Cameroon coast, where the flight took off early on Saturday.

There was no immediate information about the fate of the 105 passengers and nine crewmembers on board, he said.

The crash site is obstructed by trees and was not visible from overhead, and the location is inaccessible to vehicles, Naikuni said.

The discovery was made after the search for the aircraft was extended to a second area in swamplands north of Douala.

Naikuni's announcement followed an apparently premature report earlier Sunday of the discovery of wreckage. The first report by Cameroon state radio was subsequently denied by a Kenyan Airways spokesperson, hours before Naikuni spoke to reporters.

The aircraft took off on Friday from Abidjan the Ivory Coast and made an interim stop at Douala. The final leg to Nairobi was delayed about an hour by heavy rain, finally taking off shortly after midnight.

Within 15 minutes of takeoff, the pilot sent a distress signal, but air traffic controllers were unable to reach the flight crew.

Further rain on Saturday and Sunday hampered search operations.

The Boeing jet was just six months old and in perfect mechanical condition, according to the airline.

Most of those onboard came from Cameroon, India and people from several African countries. The crew was from Kenya.

Kenyan Transport Minister Ali Makwere and a team travelled to Cameroon and a crisis centre was established in Douala.