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US regrets plane crash in central Somalia

By Staff reporter , Garowe Online
US ambassador to Somalia Donald Yamamoto

MOGADISHU, Somalia - The US embassy in Mogadishu has expressed regret following a plane crash in central Somalia on Tuesday, terming the destruction of the aircraft and loss of food meant for the local population "unfortunate", in a statement released later on after the accident.

Washington said that nobody was injured during the accident and that the crew was safely evacuated by locals and Ugoos Khalif airport staff after the incident. Two pilots and a flight engineer were in the plane during the crash, which was the fourth aviation incident in Somalia in as many months.

The US embassy noted that the accident happened in the runway during "rollout" after landing. Aviation authorities will investigate the incident before tabling a report that would give a glimpse of what might have transpired leading to the crash.

Officials hailed local residents in Beledweyne for responding in time and probably saving the crew which was trapped in the plane. The crew, Washington added, was assisted by locals at the scene of the accident.

"We thank all the local authorities for their quick reaction to the incident and for their assistance provided to the crew immediately thereafter," read the statement in part, further eroding fears that the crew might have come under attack from security forces or the Al-Shabaab.

The flight was delivering food items to flood victims in Beledweyne, a town which is yet to recover from the heavy downpour. The donations were made by Djibouti and the US, who used an aircraft registered in Kenya, Washington added in the statement.

"Today’s flight was a part of an on-going effort to provide vitally important food aid from Djibouti to Somalia. The United States extends our appreciation to Djibouti for the provisions of assistance," read the statement, which was signed by Ryan Grizzle.

"We also thank the United States Embassy in Djibouti for providing logistical support to assist in the much-needed food assistance reaching Somali people from their Djiboutian neighbors," it further added.

Despite the incident, Washington insisted that it would continue to offer humanitarian assistance to Somalia, a country that has struggled to establish a functional government since 1991 after the ouster of dictator Siad Barre, who was accused of inflicting violence and torture on his critics.

"The United States remains a committed partner to Somalia and we reaffirm our continued efforts as the largest donor of humanitarian assistance to the Federal Government of Somalia and the Somali people," the US said in the statement.

The accident was the third involving a Kenyan aircraft in Somalia in as many months. In May, one aircraft was brought down by Ethiopian troops under controversial circumstances in Bardale killing six people on board, and later, Al-Shabaab attacked another aircraft within the Bay region.

With dilapidated road networks, Somalia relies on air transport which is popular due to its availability and safety. The US and other International partners are pushing for the rebuilding of Somalia by working closely with the Federal Government and member states.