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Date: 11 Jun 2012
Title: Kenya declares three days of mourning after crash
Nairobi - Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki has declared three days of national mourning beginning on Monday, following a helicopter crash which killed a minister, his deputy and four other officials.
Internal Security Minister Professor George Saitoti and his deputy Orwa Ojode on Sunday died in a helicopter crash which also killed two pilots and two of the minister's bodyguards.
The six were heading to Ojode's home town for a fundraising service when their helicopter crashed on Sunday morning in Kibiku area in Ngong forest in the outskirts of Nairobi.
The others who died alongside the two ministers were two pilots - Luke Oyugi and Nancy Gituanja - and two of the ministers' bodyguards - Inspector Joshua Tonkei and Sergeant Thomas Murimi.
"During this period of national mourning, the national flag will fly at half-mast," Kibaki said in a statement issued late on Sunday.
Meanwhile, a former UN chief Kofi Annan, who is the chairman of the Africa Union Panel that mediated the country's post-election violence, said they were shocked and saddened to hear of the helicopter crash which has claimed the lives of six government officials.
Annan said Saitoti was a dedicated public servant, adding that as the minister responsible for spearheading police reform, his demise at such a crucial time in Kenya's political history was a great loss to the nation.
"On behalf of the Panel of Eminent African Personalities, I wish to express our deepest condolences to the bereaved families, the Government and people of Kenya at this very sad time," Annan said.
British Foreign Secretary William Hague also expressed his condolences at the death of two Kenyan ministers.
"On behalf of the British Government, I wish to extend my deepest condolences. My thoughts are with their families and friends, and the people of Kenya, as they come to terms with this tragedy."
Saitoti, served as vice-president for 13 years. He also served as minister for finance and education.
The former University of Nairobi mathematician lecturer was one of the presidential candidates in an election expected to be held by March 2013.
Vice-president Kalonzo Musyoka said the country was hit by a tragedy of monumental proportions.
"I have worked closely with Professor Saitoti for more than 20 years in and out of Cabinet and I know he was trustworthy, dependable and fiercely patriotic. A man who could not hesitate to put the interests of the country ahead of his own," he said.
Sending condolences to the families, at the scene of accident, Musyoka said he was extremely saddened and in deep sorrow to confirm the sudden demise of the six.
"It's painful, unbelievable and a great loss to the nation. This country has lost dedicated public servants," he said.
Aviation experts at the scene of the crash termed the crash as unfortunate saying the helicopter was the newest in the police service department,
Reports said the ill-fated one engine helicopter registration number 5y CDT Coureuil -A3 350b3e was bought from France five months ago through an agent in South Africa and has always been well maintained.
In his condolences message, Prime Minister Raila Odinga said Kenya had lost two very hard working servants who were dedicated to duty and serving Kenyans.
The PM said Kenya had lost two very hard working servants who were dedicated to duty and serving Kenyans.
The PM said Saitoti and Ojode were determined to leave a mark in their docket at a very critical time and the country will miss them dearly.
"It is a bad coincidence that the deaths of Saitoti and Ojode have occurred on the fourth anniversary of the deaths of the late minister Kipkalya Kones and the law MP for Sotik Lorna Laboso who also perished in plane crash," Odinga said. - BuaNews-Xinhua