A Kenya Airways Airbus A-310 crashes after takeoff into the Atlantic Ocean off the Ivory Coast on this day in 2000. Because the passengers did not have enough time to put on life jackets, only 10 people out of the 179 on board survived.
Kenya Airways Flight 431 left Nairobi, Kenya, and was supposed to stop in Lagos, Nigeria, but was forced to land in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, because of strong Saharan winds. After waiting three hours, the flight took off from Abidjan at 9:08 p.m. As the plane left the ground, a stall warning signal sounded in the pilot’s cabin. Apparently, the signal was faulty. However, it caused the pilot to descend and ignore ground proximity warning signals. Within a minute, the Airbus jet crashed into the ocean.
The dark of night made rescue efforts virtually impossible. Ambulances, firefighters, police officers, soldiers and divers waited at the beach near the crash site until the early morning hours when there was enough sunlight to see. However, by the time they could begin searching, there was little to be done other than collect the bodies that were washing ashore. Eventually, 146 bodies were recovered out of the 169 fatalities. Many of the victims appeared to have survived the initial crash, but subsequently drowned.
The plane had been scheduled to be replaced in the coming year.