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Last Updated: Monday, 7 May 2007, 15:57 GMT 16:57 UK
Smell of death in Cameroon swamp
By Noel Mwakugu
BBC News website, near Douala, Cameroon

Villagers at the site of a plane crash in Cameroon
Villagers in Mbanga Pongo are helping with the rescue efforts
Jet fuel fumes mixed with the smell of decaying bodies hang over the site of Saturday's Kenya Airways jet crash in Cameroon.

I saw parts of the destroyed aircraft strewn across the swampy area, so badly damaged they were unrecognisable.

When I arrived at the scene, rescue workers were filling body bags with limbs, heads and other body parts - but I didn't see a full body amongst the carnage.

It's slow and hard work for the Red Cross and military paramedics, who have to wade through the mangrove forest in blazing heat and humidity.

The dampness is slowing access to the swamp, and rescue co-ordinators say extra supplies of water are being sent in to relieve the exhausted investigators, who have been working all day and are tiring quickly.

Desperate for news

Firefighters are pumping water from the swamp in an attempt to retrieve the bodies of passengers and crew.

Cameroon map

Investigators have not officially confirmed that all passengers died in the crash, but they say there's very little hope they will find anybody alive.

About 2km from the crash site, local villagers were arriving in droves after news was flashed on local television that bodies were being recovered.

"This is a very sad moment for me because I lost my wife, who was travelling to China to purchase merchandise for her business," Julius Fongoh told me.

"I will remain here until I know the fate of her body."

Another Cameroonian said he had not seen his wife since she left Bamenda for Douala on Thursday. She called him on Friday to say she was taking a flight to Kenya.

He said he had come to Douala to find her and had not given up hope yet.

"I know she is not dead - she may be sleeping and tomorrow wake up. She is not yet dead."

Those unable to get to the site have been glued to television stations to hear the latest developments.

The Kenyan and Cameroonian ministers of transport are due to issue a statement on the ongoing search effort.

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