No Survivors In Tanzania Crash

A plane crash in poor weather conditions into a mountain slope in northern Tanzania killed 10 American tourists and two Tanzanians, a police official said Thursday.

There were no survivors on the 14-seater Cessna 404.

Â"The bodies are dismembered and scattered as far as 500 meters (yards) from the wreckage,Â" said Geoffrey Saddle, a police officer in the regional crimes division.

Police and medical rescue teams reached the crash site on the slopes of Mount Meru after hours of tackling low cloud and drizzle that hampered access on Wednesday, said Isabel Mbugua, spokeswoman for the African Medical Research Foundation, which had sent rescue and medical teams to the site.

Â"They reached the site by midnight last night,Â" Mbugua said from AMREF's base in Nairobi, Kenya. Â"This morning they are retrieving the bodies.Â"

Saddle identified the Tanzanian pilot as Christopher Pereira, and the Tanzanian tour guide as Wilson Meiriali. The names of the 10 Americans killed were not yet released.

Witnesses at the foot of the mountain said Thursday the airplane was flying over the slopes of the mountain Tuesday and lost control after hitting a tree, apparently due to poor weather.

The remote slopes are covered in a thick forest of cypress trees, which are covered in a dense mist in rainy weather.

Access to the site was extremely difficult, and rescuers were forced to walk hours up the slopes to reach the wreckage.

Â"The plane crashed in a forest. We cannot land even with a helicopter,Â" regional police commander Juma Ng'amag'waka said by telephone. Â"It is a seven hour walk from where the vehicles can reach.Â"

The flight was en route from Tanzania's Serengeti National Park to Kilimanjaro International Airport in Tanzania to connect with another flight going to Nairobi, Kenya. It was scheduled to reach Tanzania before noon, but never arrived.

Villagers around the crash area spotted the wreckage and reported to authorities in the late afternoon Wednesday.

Mount Meru is located slightly north of Arusha, where most safaris to the Serengeti, Mount Kilimanjaro and the Ngorongoro Crater begin.

Margaret Munyagi, head of the Tanzanian Civil Aviation Authority, said the pilot of the Northern Air charter did not report any problems to the control tower.

Arusha-based Northern Air refused to comment.

In Washington, State Department spokesman Philip Reeker said U.S. officials had received a manifest from the charter company and were in the process of contacting the passengers' families.

Written by Sukhdev Chhatbar
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