Skyward Express plane crash-lands in a Somali military base


A Skyward Express aircraft. FILE PHOTO | NMG

A passenger plane operated by local airline Skyward Express on Wednesday crash-landed at a Somalia National Army base after developing a mechanical problem on its way to Mandera County.

The plane registration number 5Y-GRS DAC Aviation International De Havilland Canada DHC-8-100 crash-landed at Burahache military camp, Elwak, Gedo region in Somalia.

The aircraft had left Wilson Airport, Nairobi, and was destined for Mandera Wednesday morning when the incident happened. It had at least 35 passengers on board.

Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) director-general Gilbert Kibe confirmed the incident but failed to shed more light as to why the aircraft crash-landed.

“The incident happened this morning. There were about 37 passengers on board heading to Elwak and they landed in the wrong airstrip. Nobody was injured,” said Mr Kibe.

The incident is happening barely two months after the airline reintroduction of four weekly flights to connect Mombasa, Kilifi and Lamu counties.

The flights that resumed in April are meant to bridge the gap left in the North Coast air transport after the government banned flights from Nairobi to Malindi and Lamu to curb the spread of Covid-19.

The airline said during the launch that they will be operating every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday from Moi International Airport in Mombasa to Malindi and Lamu Airports.

Most business and holiday travellers from Lamu to Malindi and Mombasa prefer air travel, which takes about 30 minutes compared to the road that takes about four to five hours between Mombasa and Lamu.

Besides, several cases of Al Shabaab terror attacks on public service vehicles over the past years along the Sh10 billion Garsen-Witu-Lamu Road, which is under construction seems to have scared away some travellers from using the road.