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Kenyan investigators await access to crash site

Kenya Airways officials said that by mid-afternoon on Tuesday they had still not been granted access to the site where their A-310 jetliner plunged into the Atlantic Ocean just off the coast of Cote d'Ivoire, killing 169 passengers.

"At this point we don't know why we can't go," Fred Kiige, the spokesman for the Kenya Airways recovery team, told reporters in Abidjan. He said a team of Ivorian civil aviation and Kenya Airways officials were supposed to begin joint investigations into the crash on Tuesday morning but had been delayed by their failure to hold a series of meetings on the issue.

The meeting was supposed to discuss the logistics of moving reporters and aviation experts to the crash site some 12 km off the coast. Kenyan Airways Managing Director Richard Nyaga was later able to meet with Ivorian officials, though there was no official word on the details of these discussions.

So far, 100 bodies have been recovered from the fuselage which was found on Sunday. Kiige said wreckage was now being washed ashore but that the flight data and voice recorders, commonly known as the black box, had not been located as at 0900 gmt. These instruments are essential in establishing the cause of any crash and record airspeed, altitude, vertical acceleration, radio communication and cockpit conversation.

Kiige said divers in Senegal and those of the Kenya Navy were standing by to help salvage the wreckage if asked by the Ivorians. Police and civil aviation officials are guarding debris that has been washed ashore until investigators gain access to these sites.

The team of investigators could comprise Ivorian civil aviation officials, their Kenyan counterparts, aviation consultants from the UK, insurance officials, Airbus Industrie (the aircraft manufacturer) and General Electric, makers of the engines.

Meanwhile, Kenya Airways says it will fly relatives of the deceased to Abidjan for identification purposes. Identification of some of the corpses has already started. Kenya Airways says it has also flown support teams to counsel grieving relatives in Lagos.

Most of the dead are Nigerian. Others were from Belgium, Congo, Chad, the Netherlands, Ethiopia, India, Uganda, Senegal, Tanzania, Togo, the United States and other countries. There were 10 survivors while 18 passengers got off the plane in Abidjan to connect to Accra.

This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

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