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Page last updated at 09:16 GMT, Sunday, 6 May 2007 10:16 UK

Search for Kenyan plane resumes

Concerned relatives arrive at Kenya's Jomo Kenyatta International Airport
Worried friends and relatives gathered at Kenya's main airport

Rescuers in southern Cameroon have resumed searching for a Kenya Airways airliner thought to have crashed on Saturday with 114 people aboard.

The flight, which originated in Ivory Coast, is believed to have come down in dense jungle after taking off in heavy rain from Douala en route to Nairobi.

Searchers using helicopters are focusing on the Lolodorf area after reports of an explosion there.

The missing come from more than 20 countries, including five Britons.

The Boeing 737-800 was just six months old and part of a new fleet bought by the airline.

The presumed crash will raise questions about whether other aircraft will be taken out of service, the BBC's Karen Allen reports from Nairobi.

Kenya's national carrier has a good safety record but 169 people died when one of its planes crashed in 2000.

'Confusion'

Flight KQ 507 originated in Abidjan and left Douala, Cameroon, at 0005 on Saturday (2305 GMT Friday), being due to reach Nairobi at 0615 (0315 GMT).

map

The last communication with the missing plane was received by the control tower in Douala, on the coast, shortly after take-off, Kenya Airways said.

A distress signal was later sent out by the plane, Kenyan Airways chief executive Titus Naikuni said, adding that this would have been sent out automatically.

A BBC correspondent in Lolodorf says the situation there has been chaotic, and heavy rains on Saturday prevented a ground search from taking place.

'Anxious and desperate'

Kenyan Transport Minister Chirau Ali Makwere - who is leading a team of Kenya Airways and government officials to Douala - said it was too early to determine what had happened to the plane.

NATIONALITIES OF MISSING
The airport in Douala, Cameroon
35 Cameroon
15 India
9 Kenya (crew)
7 South Africa
6 China
6 Ivory Coast
6 Nigeria
5 Britain
3 Niger
2 Central African Republic
2 Democratic Republic of Congo
2 Equatorial Guinea
1 Ghana; Sweden; Togo; Mali; Switzerland; Comoros; Egypt; Mauritius; Senegal; Congo; Tanzania; US; Burkina Faso
3 unidentified
Source: Kenya Airways

"We need to get information from the technical experts as to whether it was occasioned by the weather or pilot error or mechanical fault," he was quoted by the Associated Press as saying.

A crisis management centre is now working in Nairobi.

Anthony Mitchell, a respected and well-known Associated Press journalist based in Nairobi, is thought to be among the missing Britons.

There has been no confirmation from the Foreign Office.

On Saturday, there were distressing scenes at Nairobi's Jomo Kenyatta International Airport where a number of worried friends and relatives gathered.

"We can only hope for the best and pray... We're anxious and desperate," one man said.

The Kenya Airways website says the fleet is 23-strong. It is 26%-owned by Air France-KLM.

In January 2000 a Kenya Airways plane crashed into the sea after taking off from Abidjan airport in Ivory Coast killing 169 people. There were 10 survivors.

video and audio news
News of a report that the plane has been spotted



SEE ALSO
Air disasters timeline
07 Mar 07 |  Europe
Country profile: Kenya
15 Mar 07 |  Country profiles

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