No Survivors In Kenyan Jet Crash

Workers seen at the crash site of a Kenya Airways plane at Mange Pongo, Cameroon, Monday, May 7, 2007. Aviation officials said Monday that a plane carrying 114 people nose-dived into a thick mangrove forest early Saturday, disintegrating on impact and there were no survivors according to Luc Ndjodo, a local government official.(AP Photo/Schalk van Zuydam)
AP Photo/Schalk van Zuydam
None of the 114 people aboard a Kenya Airways flight survived its crash into a thick mangrove swamp over the weekend, an official said Monday after returning from the water-filled crater he said the plane left.

Asked whether anyone survived, Luc Ndjodo, a local government official in charge of the recovery effort, said: "No. I was there. I saw none."

Villagers wielding machetes and chain saws cleared the way Monday for searchers setting out into the central African swamp where the jetliner crashed Saturday.

"The plane fell head first. Its nose was buried in the mangrove swamp," Thomas Sobakam, chief of meteorology for the Douala airport, said earlier.

The plane had taken off from Douala, Cameroon's commercial capital, and its wreckage was found just 12 miles from the town's outskirts. The cause of the crash remained unclear.

The Nairobi, Kenya-bound plane was carrying 105 passengers and nine crew members from 27 different countries.

Among the passengers was Nairobi-based Associated Press correspondent Anthony Mitchell, who had been on assignment in the region.

Other passengers include executives from the South African cell phone giant MTN and the nephew of Indian tycoon Ramesh Chauhan, the owner of Parle Products, a leading manufacturer of cookies in India.

The wreckage was found southeast of Douala, along the plane's flight path from the Douala airport — more than 40 hours after the Boeing 737-800 lost contact with the airport. The crash site was concealed by a thick canopy of trees, Titus Naikuni, chief executive of Kenya Airways, told a news conference in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi Sunday.

While the site where the plane went down was not remote, it was in a dense and hard-to-access mangrove forest. The road in was dirt track, its ruts filled with water Monday after heavy overnight rains. The last stretch to the site could accommodate only foot traffic — a large Douala airport truck had become mired in the mud overnight.

A U.S. Embassy official who saw the crash site from a plane Monday said it would have been impossible to have found from the air without coordinates provided by searchers on the ground. He said searchers in planes saw nothing when they flew over before sunset Sunday after hearing reports the plane could have gone down in the swamp.

"It's not what you expect, a bunch of trees knocked down and charred," said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to reporters. "It's just a big muddy hole, like many others out there."

The U.S. and France are among the nations providing aircraft and other equipment to help the Cameroonians search.

Guiffo Gande Adolphe, a 35-year-old Douala resident, said Monday he went to see what he could do after hearing wreckage had been found, and ended up among a handful of volunteers and soldiers who spent the night at the site. Adolphe said he had seen one body and a body part.

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    Scott Conroy is a National Political Reporter for RealClearPolitics and a contributor for CBS News.