10 American tourists, 2 Tanzanians killed inplane crash
Arusha, Tanzania - The details of the August 31, 1999 ghastly plane crash which occcured in northern Tanzania killed 10 American tourists and two Tanzanians, are emerging. It was reportedly due to poor weather conditions which caused it to veer into a mountain slope. There were no survivors on the 14-seater Cessna 404 plane. Geoffrey Saddle, a police officer in the regional crimes division said that "The bodies are dismembered and scattered as far as 500 metres from the wreckage,'' said. Isabel Mbugua, spokeswoman for the African Medical Research Foundation informed the Associated Press that police and medical rescue teams reached the crash site on the slopes of Mount Meru after hours of tackling low cloud and drizzle that hampered access . Saddle identified the Tanzanian pilot as Christopher Pereira, and the Tanzanian tour guide as Wilson Meiriali. The names of the 10 Americans killed were not yet released.
"It is a seven hour walk from where the vehicles can reach.'' In Washington, State Department spokesman Philip Reeker said US officials had received a manifest from the charter company and were in the process of contacting the passengers' families.
The remote slopes are covered in a thick forest of cyprus trees, which are covered in a dense mist in rainy weather. It crashed at about 3 000 feet above sea level on the 15067-foot mountain. Access to the site was extremely difficult, and rescuers were forced to walk hours up the slopes to reach the wreckage. "The plane crashed in a forest. We cannot land even with a helicopter,'' said regional police commander Juma Ng'amag'waka by telephone. The flight was en route from Tanzania's Serengeti National Park to Kilimanjaro International Airport in Tanzania to connect with another flight going to Nairobi, Kenya. It was scheduled to reach KIA before noon, but never arrived. Mount Meru is located slightly north of Arusha, where most safaris to the Serengeti, Mount Kilimanjaro and the Ngorongoro Crater begin. Margaret Munyagi, head of the Tanzanian Civil Aviation Authority, said the pilot of the Northern Air charter did not report any problems to the control tower. Arusha-based Northern Air refused to comment.
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