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Last Updated: Tuesday, 11 April 2006, 17:12 GMT 18:12 UK
Kenyans mourn air crash victims
Television screen grab of MPs Raila Odinga (l) and Charity Ngilu with other MPs gathering at a Nairobi airport to receive the bodies of those who died in Marsabit crash
There was a sombre mood at the airport where the caskets arrived
Kenya has begun three days of national mourning after a plane carrying several prominent politicians on a peace mission to the north crashed.

The bodies of the 14 dead passengers, who include two assistant ministers and four other MPs, have arrived back in the capital, Nairobi.

The BBC's Ruth Nesoba says the mood at the airport where the caskets arrived was sombre with many in tears.

The crashed plane struck a hill while landing near Marsabit in heavy rain.

President Mwai Kibaki declared that three days of mourning would start on Tuesday, and ordered flags to be flown at half mast

Crash site in northern Kenya

He was amongst many other MPs gathered on Tuesday afternoon to receive the bodies from the crash site near Marsabit.

With the caskets displayed - draped in the Kenyan flag - many of the families and dignitaries had difficulty holding back their tears, our correspondent says

Plans to bury two of the victims on Tuesday were abandoned as pathologists have had difficulty identifying the bodies.

National Assembly sittings have been suspended until funerals arrangements are complete.

Assistant ministers Mirugi Kariuki and Titus Ngoyoni are among the dead.

Bonaya Godana, the deputy leader of Kenya's main opposition party, Kanu, and two other members of parliament also died in the crash near Marsabit, 450 km (280 miles) north-east of Nairobi.

Mission

The politicians were travelling to the region to mediate in a bloody feud between rival communities near the border with Ethiopia.

NAMES OF POLITICIANS KILLED
MP Mirugi Kariuki, assistant minister internal security
MP Titus Ngoyoni, assistant minister regional development
MP Bonaya Godana, deputy leader official opposition
MP Abdi Sasura
MP Guracha Galgallo
Abdullahi Adan , MP in the East African parliament
Peter King'ola, Moyale district commissioner
Source: Kenya State House

The area has been volatile in recent months due to drought, with nomads competing for scarce water resources.

One UN official said it would be difficult to find new individuals who have the influence and expertise to persuade local clans to remain peaceful.

"Every one of us is called upon by this happening to join solidly in serving the people of Kenya, and in serving them it is to abandon the cause for which these gentlemen may have lost their lives," President Kibaki said at the airport on Tuesday.

The speaker of the Kenyan parliament, Francis Ole Kaparo, described the accident as the worst tragedy to hit the national assembly.

He paid tribute to his colleagues and said that parliament would be suspended until the funerals had taken place.

Three years ago, a plane carrying four ministers and several MPs crashed, killing one minister.

A commission of inquiry into that incident recommended that government officials should not travel together in one plane.

The three survivors - the Eastern Province's provincial commissioner and two Kenyan Airforce crew members - are reported to be stable in hospital.

A fourth survivor died later on Monday.


SEE ALSO:
In pictures: Kenya plane tragedy
11 Apr 06 |  In Pictures
Country profile: Kenya
02 Mar 06 |  Country profiles



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