American Tourists Die in Kenya Plane Crash

July 7, 2008 - 7:21 PM

Nairobi, Kenya (CNSNews.com) - Twelve American tourists - three generations of one family - died in Kenya after their chartered plane crashed into Mount Kenya late Saturday. Two South African crewmembers also died in the crash, which is blamed on poor weather.

Rescue officials from the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) and the Kenya police said they had recovered 11 bodies by late Sunday.

KWS operations chief Thomas Gesongori told reporters here that the plane originated in South Africa and was bound for the Samburu National Park when it crashed and disintegrated.

An eyewitness, Peter Mutua, said he spotted the aircraft flying very low and then suddenly it hit the mountain, about 4,000 meters from the top of Point Lenana, one of three peaks on Mount Kenya.

Another eyewitness, identified only as a security guard at Point Austrian, said the plane immediately burst into flames, and the fire burned throughout the night.

Mount Kenya is located in the central region of Kenya, along the equator.

A team 21 investigators and recovery officers reached the site of the air-crash Monday morning, hoping to recover the missing bodies and conclusively establish the cause of the crash.

The team will later be joined by investigators from the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board and a team from South Africa where the aircraft was registered, said Chief Inspector of Aircraft Accidents Peter Wakahia.

He said the aircraft had been "completely destroyed," and debris was scattered on two rock outcrops on either side of the point of impact.

U.S. embassy officials in Nairobi could not comment on the accident as of press time.

Kenya President Mwai Kibaki sent a message of condolence to U.S. President George W. Bush and South Africa's President Thabo Mbeki following the death of their nationals in the plane crash. He said his heart was with the families and friends of those who perished in the crash.

USA Today reported that the dead include Dr. George Brumley, 68; his wife, Jean, 67; three of their children, George III, daughters Lois and Beth; George's wife Julia and two children, George IV and Jordan; Lois' husband Richard Morrell and their son, Alex, 11, and Beth's husband William Love and their daughter, Sarah, 12.

The newspaper reported that Dr. Brumley was the retired chairman of Emory University's pediatric department. He traveled to Africa two years ago, press reports said, and he wanted his family to see it as well.