There was a major scare after a military helicopter carrying Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki aborted its flight shortly after take off when it developed mechanical problems in Kisii, western Kenya, Wednesday.
Also in the Kenya Air Force chopper were three cabinet ministers – George Saitoti (Internal Security), Chris Obure (Public Works) and Sam Ongeri (Education).
Kibaki, who was on a meet the people tour of the larger Kisii District, was forced to change helicopters at Marani shopping centre after the engine started emitting thick smoke.
“It is a slight mechanical breakdown and we have launched investigations to establish the cause. We suspect it’s a case of an overheated engine,” a military officer at the scene said.
The Department of Defence immediately issued a statement to assure Kenyans that President Kibaki was not exposed to any danger during the mishap.
In the statement, Spokesman Bogita Ongeri said the Puma helicopter experienced malfunction on take off.
“This afternoon at around 1300 hrs local time, one of the two engines of the military Puma helicopter which was ferrying H.E the President from Marani to Kibabe in Kisii North District experienced a malfunction on take off.
“On noticing this, the pilot elected to land immediately as is the drill in such situations, throughout this phase of the flight, the President was not exposed to any danger,” he said.
Kibaki, who was on the second day of a meet the people tour in Kisii, continued with his busy schedule holding several public rallies.
“The President was transferred to the support helicopter which flew him safely to Kibabe, ensuring that he was on time for his programme,” Ongeri said.