Helicopter Crash Kills Defence Chief, 9 Senior Officers In Kenya


Apr 18, 2024

Kenya is mourning following a tragic military helicopter crash that claimed the lives of the country’s defence chief, General Francis Omondi Ogolla, and nine other senior military personnel.

President William Ruto announced the catastrophe, which occurred on Thursday afternoon in the remote Elgeyo Marakwet county, approximately 400 kilometers northwest of Nairobi.

The accident happened shortly after takeoff from Chesegon, where General Ogolla and his entourage had visited a school.
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“Today at 2:20 pm, our nation suffered a tragic air accident, I am deeply saddened to announce the passing of General Francis Omondi Ogolla,” President Ruto told reporters in a press briefing.

He added that while two individuals survived the crash, the nation lost ten gallant officers.

In response to the tragedy, President Ruto convened an urgent meeting of the National Security Council and declared three days of national mourning starting Friday, with flags to be flown at half-mast.

The Kenya Air Force has dispatched an air investigation team to the crash site to determine the cause of the incident.

General Ogolla, aged 61, was a distinguished military leader with a long and decorated career.

Appointed Chief of the Defence Forces by President Ruto in April last year, Ogolla was a trained fighter pilot who joined the Kenya Defence Forces in April 1984.
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He rose through the ranks to command the Kenyan Air Force in 2018, a position he held for three years.

The helicopter, a Huey model, was carrying more than ten senior commanders at the time of the crash, including General Ogolla.

They were on a security mission in the North Rift area as part of Operation Maliza Uhalifu (Operation End Crime in Swahili), aimed at addressing insecurity challenges like armed banditry and cattle rustling prevalent in the Rift Valley region.

President Ruto praised General Ogolla’s service and commitment to the nation, noting his critical role in national security despite the controversies following his appointment.

The president had previously emphasized that despite opposition, he chose Ogolla for his exemplary military credentials and leadership qualities.

The nation now grieves the loss of one of its most valiant generals and other military personnel, as investigations into the crash continue.

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