NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — Four people were killed when a cargo plane crashed shortly after takeoff at the international airport in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, a police official said Wednesday.
The Fokker 50 aircraft transporting the mild stimulant known as Khat to the Somali capital, Mogadishu, crashed into a commercial building after taking off from Jomo Kenyatta International Airport early Wednesday, said Joseph Ngisa, the airport’s head of police investigations.
Preliminary investigations found the plane was flying low after takeoff and might have hit an electrical pole before crashing in the Embakasi area of the city, Ngisa said. The plane took off at 4:15 a.m. and crashed two minutes later after radioing the control tower to say the plane didn’t gain height, he said.
No one on the ground was harmed, and the four bodies of those in the plane were recovered, Ngisa said.
The Kenya National Disaster Operation Center said on Twitter that all the victims were male, and they included the flight engineer as well the pilot and two crew members.
Khat is popular in parts of the Middle East and Africa and with Somali nationals in the diaspora but it’s classified as a dangerous narcotic in the United States. Users chew the leaf, producing a mild high.
The U.K. government recently banned Khat saying the country is at a serious risk of becoming a regional hub and transit point for illegal Khat trafficking to the Netherlands, which banned the use of Khat in January. The U.K. said its decision followed that of most European Union member countries to ban the stimulant.