Kenyan deputy president’s pilot dies in chopper crash

The helicopter “lost contact and crashed” shortly after taking off from Lake Turkana’s Central Island
Kenyan Flag
Kenya’s national flag flies in the wind during the Labour Day Parade organized by the Central Organization of Trade Unions Kenya (COTU-K) at Uhuru Park in Nairobi on May 1, 2018. (Photo by Yasuyoshi CHIBA / AFP)

A Kenyan pilot, Capt Marious Magonga, and four foreign tourists lost their lives in a helicopter crash on Sunday.

Captain Magonga was a pilot for Kenya’s deputy president, William Ruto, who also owned the crashed helicopter.

The accident occurred in the Central Island National Park in Lake Turkana, police said in a statement.

The helicopter “lost contact and crashed” shortly after taking off with a second chopper from Lake Turkana’s Central Island, the statement said. 

Rescuers found the wreckage about seven hours later “with no survivors”.

“The cause of the incident is yet to be established and the details of the deceased will be released once the next of kin have been notified,” a police statement said.

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Known as the Jade Sea, Lake Turkana, is the most saline lake in East Africa, the largest desert lake in the world, and a popular tourist spot. 

Its Central Island is made up of three active volcanoes, according to the Kenya Wildlife Service.

The lake is an important stopover for migratory birds and its islands are breeding grounds for the Nile crocodile, hippopotamus and several snake species.

Last year, UNESCO placed the massive expanse of water on its list of endangered World Heritage Sites, in part because it is threatened by Ethiopia’s construction of a hydroelectric dam on the Omo River, which replenishes the lake seasonally.

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