Kenya Police Blame Jumbo Near Crash on Mental Patient
Police in Kenya blamed Friday's near crash of a British Airways plane carrying almost 400 passengers on a "mental patient" who wrestled with the pilots.
"A mental patient on board went berserk," police spokesman Dola Indidis told AFP in Nairobi.
A statement released here by British Airways said "it appears a male passenger entered the flight deck and attempted to seize the flight controls" of the Boeing 747 jumbo jet.
Indidis said the man had been taken under police escort to Nairobi Hospital where he was being kept under medication.
The spokesman said he did not know the nationality of the man, or whether charges would be brought against him.
According to several passengers, the pilot of the plane shared the view that the man in question was mentally unstable.
"There was a mad man who came in the cockpit with the intention of crashing the plane and committing suicide," passengers quoted the pilot as saying after the man had been overpowered.
"It started like a roller coaster. The plane turned sharply, it fell steeply. Everybody was quite upset, there were lots of tears, lots of screams," recalled US doctor Todd Engstrom, 41, travelling to Kenya with his wife and two daughters to work a medical volunteer.
Engstrom said the incident took place about 0500 GMT, about two hours before the plane landed in Nairobi.
He said a first-class passenger told him the man in question had entered the cockpit, turned off the autopilot and struggled with the pilots before being overpowered by flight crew and other first class passengers.
British Airways confirmed that the autopilot had been "disengaged" during the incident.
"Everyone hit the roof, it fell so quickly," British student Kathi Layborn, 18, told AFP at Nairobi airport.
"It felt like it was going to crash. It was so horrible," added her friend Zoe McNaughton -- NAIROBI (AFP)
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