India Diaspora
Seven from Kerala are among 15 Indians onboard Kenyan jet
May 6, 2007 - 10:30:30 PM

Thiruvananthapuram, May 6 - Seven people from Kerala are believed to be among the 15 Indians on board the Kenyan Airways plane that crashed in a rain forest near the Cameroon capital, Yaounde. Media reports say there were nine people from Kerala.

Of the seven, four are from Kochi. They include Shirley Nigli and her husband Kevin, and George Joseph and his wife Maria Joseph. Both the men worked in a Cameroon tea estate.

Another passenger is Nalakth Gireesan from Tellichery in Kannur district. He was supposed to arrive in Kerala to take part in the naming ceremony of his grand daughter due Monday.

'He was supposed to land in Mumbai and arrive here with my sister and family. We have been trying to get in touch with officials in Delhi and Kenya,' said his worried son Nitin, an engineering student.

Gireesan, 58, was employed on a ship in Kenya. His last visit home was 18 months ago.

Ever since the news of the crash, friends and relatives of Gireesan have been flocking to his home in Tellichery.

'Every time the telephone rings, we all expect to hear news that he is safe and sound,' said a neighbour.

The relatives of Kevin and Joseph are planning to fly to Bangalore where their children are settled.

The office of Kerala Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan told IANS that they were yet to hear any official news about the total number of people onboard who hailed from Kerala.

Meanwhile, reports indicate that there are two more people from Kerala - one from Kochi and another from Kollam district - on board the flight. The details are not yet known.

Earlier, Cameroon radio reported that search teams had sighted the crashed airliner in a rain-forest southwest of the Cameroon capital, Yaounde. The plane with 114 people aboard went missing early Saturday.

The search by two teams from Kenya and Cameroon for the aircraft had been hampered due to bad weather.

The aircraft originally took off from the Ivory Coast city of Abidjan and made an interim stop at Douala before taking off again shortly after midnight on its way to Nairobi. It was due to land early Saturday.

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