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Last Updated: Monday, 7 May 2007, 16:00 GMT 17:00 UK
Grief and confusion in Kenya
By Kevin Mwachiro
BBC News, Nairobi

Relatives in Nairobi of those on board the Kenya Airways Boeing 737-800 airliner, which crashed in a swamp near Doula in Cameroon, have had a harrowing 48 hours.

All nine Kenyan victims of the crash were crew members.

Concerned relatives at Kenya's Jomo Kenyatta International Airport
Hope has been fading for worried friends and relatives
Silas Kadurenge's brother Cyprian was a flight attendant on the plane and he had already had people asking him about the whereabouts of his brother before he received the fateful news.

"I was sleeping and then a friend called me and asked me where Cyprian was.

"I told him that he was in Benin and he was meant to be back on Saturday.

"Then after a while, my bigger brother was contacted by Kenya Airways and was told things are not OK and he will be given more information.

"We have been counselled since then and have been asked to stay calm."

Poor communication

The 36-hour delay in finding the site of the crash, and now the slow process of identifying bodies, only adds to the uncertainty and grief being experienced by the families.

If a miracle happens, we will be grateful
Louis Roger Ouandji

Some heard the news from the airline first, but the flow of communication has not been consistent.

Fred Kiiru Otieno whose mother, Phyllis Njeri Kiiru, was the purser on the flight, received the phone call he will never forget.

"The call we got on Saturday is one we always wished never to get, but it happened."

But he said they had heard nothing since then: "We are in the dark."

Twenty-six-year-old Shantabeen Wakhu had only joined the airline eight months ago.

Her father, Nicholas Wakhu, remembers the harrowing phone call.

"We were called by the Kenya Airways management to inform us of the plane crash in which our Shantabeen was on board.

"I didn't know how I was going to break the news to her mother."

Huddles

The poor flow of information has not made the situation any easier for the grieving families and news updates on television and bulletins on the radio seem to be the most reliable source of information.

Cameroon map

The airline has advised the relatives to attend press briefings and the families are always easy to point out at these sessions.

They huddle together, walking together, news hungry, but now with fading hopes and a team of bereavement counsellors have been deployed to support the families.

For Louis Roger Ouandji, a Cameroonian based in Kenya, who lost his son Pierre Christian on flight KQ 507, he is at least grateful that he was able to spend time with his son who had been visiting Kenya and Cameroon from France.

"I believe he had come to say goodbye, but if a miracle happens, we will be grateful."


SEE ALSO
In pictures: Cameroon crash scene
07 May 07 |  In Pictures
Cameroon air crash site located
06 May 07 |  Africa
Air disasters timeline
05 May 07 |  Europe



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