Nairobi, Kenya — Emergency teams today are searching for two Ugandan army helicopters feared to have crashed in thick forest in Kenya while flying to Somalia to support forces fighting insurgents there, officials said.
Seven Ugandan servicemen aboard a third helicopter, which was part of the same mission, were rescued, Kenyan army spokesman Bogita Ongeri said.
"One of the missing helicopters has been located. It had seven people on board. Only one of them sustained slight injuries," Ongeri told AFP.
He said the pilot had managed to make an emergency landing in the central Mount Kenya region and radioed for help.
However, nothing has been heard from two other helicopters — Russian-made Mi-24 helicopter gunships like the one that was located — which are believed to have either crashed or crash-landed in the same thickly forested region.
Ugandan army spokesman Felix Kulayigye told reporters they had "yet to confirm the whereabouts of the other two (helicopters) with 10 people on board."
A Mi-17 transport helicopter which had taken off from Uganda on Sunday as part of the same mission, landed without problems in the eastern Kenyan town of Garissa near the Somali border for a scheduled refuelling stop.
"Four choppers left Uganda, one landed in Garissa," said Ongeri.
"A search and rescue team has been dispatched. As of now we do not know that they have crashed... The terrain and weather are unfavourable."
The Russian-made Mi-24 is used as an attack helicopter but can also carry up to eight passengers.
The area were the aircraft are feared to have come down is mountainous terrain dominated by snowcapped Mount Kenya, Africa's second highest peak at 5,199metres (17,057 feet).
Wild animals including elephants, leopard and rhino prowl the forests, about 110 kilometers (70 miles) north of the capital Nairobi.