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'Plane had no snags'


NAIROBI, JAN. 31. The Kenya Airways plane that crashed into the sea off Cote D'Ivoire overnight had ``no technical problems of any significance'', the airline's technical director, Mr. Steve Clarke, said here today.

He told a press conference that the Airbus was carrying 168 passengers and 11 crew on flight number KQ 431. A ``substantial number'' of the passengers were Nigerian, Mr. Clarke said.

The accident was the carrier's first disaster since the airline was set up in 1977.

Mr. Clarke added that the flight originated in Nairobi and was meant to stop over in Lagos but flew directly to Abidjan because of weather conditions over the Nigerian economic capital.

The Nigerian passengers would have left the plane before it crashed if weather had not forced it to overfly Lagos. It was heading back to Lagos when it crashed into the sea with most of the original passengers still aboard. ``It was an irregular routing because of bad weather,'' Mr. Clarke said.

The airline said at least eight people of the 179 aboard the plane had survived the crash. ``We understand there are at least eight survivors who are being treated, but we are also getting reports of bodies washing up on the shore,'' Mr. Clarke said.

Kenya Airways had bought the aircraft new in October 1986 and it was considered ``relatively new'' in airline terms. ``Thirteen years is really very young for a jet aircraft and they are maintained in compliance with regulatory authorities.''

- AFP, Reuters

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