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Garang crash probe named

8/20/2005 8:00am

By Alfred Wasike
THE helicopter that killed Dr. John Garang crashed into the Zuria mountain ranges in southern Sudan, just six minutes to landing.

Initial findings by the newly-constituted international probe from Uganda, Sudan, SPLM, the US, Russia and Kenya said in Kampala yesterday 13 bodies were recovered from the crash scene.

A UN official in Khartoum said 17 bodies were recovered from the wreckage.

The investigators blamed the crash in which 12 others were also killed on bad weather.

The investigators said this at a press conference at which the team was named. The probe is to focus on forensic, ballistics, recorders, operations, airworthiness, air-traffic control/weather, accident site survey and security.

The investigators are works minister John Nasasira, former Sudan Vice-President Abel Alier Kuai and the US National Transportation Safety Board chief investigator, Dennis Jones. They said the probe would last six months.

In a joint statement, the team said analysis of the black boxes would take up to 10 days and that they were to be flown to Moscow, Russia, soon. They said the crash scene was guarded by Uganda and Sudan authorities.

The technical team is guided by President Museveni’s appointees Nasasira, internal affairs minister Ruhakana Rugunda, presidency minister Beatrice Wabudeya and Maj. Gen. James Kazini.

Reading out the joint statement, Nasasira said Garang came to Uganda on July 29, from Kenya on a private visit to meet his life-long friend Museveni at Rwakitura and stayed overnight in Mbarara.

Nasasira said on July 30, Garang and his entourage left Rwakitura and landed at Entebbe at 4:19pm.

“The aircraft refuelled and departed Entebbe at 17:02 (5.07pm) with 13 people on board for New Site. At 5:38pm the pilot reported that he was 65 nautical miles (117km) from Entebbe with operations normal,” he said.

“This was the last communication between the pilot and Entebbe Control Tower. The estimated flight time on this aircraft type to this destination is two hours. The helicopter did not arrive at New Site as scheduled.

“A search was made and the wreckage was found in Zuria mountain ranges. All the 13 on board had been killed during the crash. Relevant authorities were informed. Identification of bodies by experts was done and burials conducted,” he said.
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