The wreckage is yet to be spotted

LOLODORF, Cameroon - Fog, thick forest and an unexplained silence from an emergency transponder were hampering search efforts yesterday as rescuers combed a remote area for a Kenya-bound flight that crashed with 114 people on board, including 105 passengers from 27 countries.

LOLODORF, Cameroon - Fog, thick forest and an unexplained silence from an emergency transponder were hampering search efforts yesterday as rescuers combed a remote area for a Kenya-bound flight that crashed with 114 people on board, including 105 passengers from 27 countries.

The nationalities of the passengers are: 35 Cameroonians, 15 Indians, nine Kenyan crew members, seven South Africans, six Chinese, six Ivorians, six Nigerians, five Britons, two each from the Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo and Equatorial Guinea, and one each from the US, Switzerland, Sweden, Mali, Togo, Ghana, Comoros, Mauritius, Senegal, Congo-Brazzaville, Egypt, Tanzania and Burkina Faso.

A Kenya Airways official said in Nairobi that the company's plane had stopped emitting signals after an initial distress call, though an automatic device should have kept up emissions for another two days.

"Why the signal is not being heard right now, we're not quite sure," said Kenya Airways chief executive officer Titus Naikuni.

The silence complicated an already difficult rescue mission.

The wreckage was yet to be spotted by yesterday afternoon. Rescuers had suspended the search because of heavy rains on Saturday. The rains subsided by daybreak, but fog persisted.

"It's a forest, and there's no access in terms of road network," Naikuni said. "We are talking equatorial forest - tall, huge trees."

Worshippers said prayers for those aboard at Kenyan churches yesterday, including Nairobi's Anglican cathedral.

The jet bound for the Kenyan capital Nairobi went down early on Saturday near Lolodorf, about 135km southeast of the coastal city of Douala, where it had taken off after midnight on Friday.

Speaking by telephone en route to the crash site, Naikuni said there was no word on survivors On Saturday, search planes flew over the forested area where the airliner gave off a distress signal, but no wreckage has been spotted.

The search continued on the ground into the night, but helicopters could not operate effectively in the dark, said Jean Francois Villong, a local official co-ordinating the rescue effort.

The helicopters started again yesterday morning, and more rescue workers, including security forces, joined the search.

Relatives and colleagues of those aboard were making their way to the remote area, which has few roads and is dotted with small villages.

Some expressed a willingness to search themselves, but acknowledged they did not know how to begin in the tough conditions.

"It is difficult because this area is mountainous and heavily forested.

"And we suspect the plane may have fallen into a valley," said Villong.

Residents in the area reported hearing a "large boom" during the previous night.- Sapa-AP

X