Remember meForgot password?
    Log in with Twitter

US Navy divers search for black box in croc-infested African lake

By Adriana Stuijt     Mar 28, 2009 in World
Lake Victoria in Uganda: Some 250 feet deep, murky, dark, crocodile-infested -- for divers searching for the wreck of a large military cargo plane it's similar to looking for a black cat inside a coal shed at midnight - without a flashlight.
Its total surface of 26,830 square miles is the size of Ireland. With its length of 250 miles it's also the world's second largest freshwater lake after Lake Superior.
Without their sophisticated sonar scanning equipment, it would take divers 275,000 hours to search this gigantic lake for the scattered wreckage.
And then there's those giant Nile crocodiles: due to overfishing, these reptiles' preferred food is human flesh...see
In fact, one man-eater croc dubbed Osama by terrified villagers, managed to consume 83 residents -- that they knew of -- before he was finally caught after a seven-day stakeout.
This then, is the inland sea where U.S. and Ugandan military divers are conducting a very careful search for the remains of four missing men. They also hope to find the crashed Russian Ilyushin-76 cargo plane's flight recorder amongst the scattered wreckage. It's a daunting task, because a lot of the wreckage is embedded deep into the silt, their sonar scans are showing. The plane had burst into flames and plunged into the water just minutes after takeoff from Entebbe airport on March 9 2009.
The remains of seven of the eleven people on board were recovered shortly after the crash, during which the plane also just missed four Ugandan fishermen in two boats...
The seven victims were identified and have already been buried. However, four more people from this chartered mercy flight enroute to Somalia are still missing: the two Russian aviators and two employees of the U.S. company which had leased the plane, Dyncorp International of Virginia. The men have Indian and South African nationalities.
Capt Corinna Jones, the on-scene public affairs officer for the United States military's CJTF-HOA search and recovery mission, told Digital Journal today that while their sonar scans have located the wreck, it's also 80 feet under water, with some pieces buried deep into the thick layer of silt on the lake floor.
Looking for data recorders
She says a team of skilled navy divers now is searching to retrieve the flight data recorders." If and when the flight data recorders are recovered, US service members will immediately hand it over to the Uganda authorities, who would try and determine the cause of the crash,' she says.
"The water is indeed very deep and muddy. This is the very reason the Government of Uganda requested US assistance in recovering the victims and retrieving the black box and flight data information. US military personnel brought additional skills and capabilities, that were readily available, to this multi-national effort...' Indeed: they flew with their equipment all the way from the U.S. to help with the recovery effort.
Captain Jones says that 'thus far, they haven't had any trouble with the crocodiles...'
Why are AFRICOM military men involved in Uganda?
The US military already have a presence in Uganda, because Uganda has for years, been plagued by a particularly vicious, cult-like terrorist group, the Lord's Resistance Army.
Government ruled by the Ten Commandments...
An expert at AFRICOM, Vincent Crawley, says after recent attempts at a peace settlement between the Ugandan government and the rebel movement's leader, Joseph Kony, the LRA still seeks to overthrow the Ugandan Government and replace it with a government ruled solely by the Ten Commandments.
However Kony also believes that he's a holy man, and to achieve his goal, he and his well-armed militia therefor feel justified to break every one of the Commandments in their terrorist campaign since 1986: during which more than 1,8-million people were forced to flee into secure camps to escape from the LRA's campaign of terrorising villagers, in which they hack off limbs, noses and ears, rape, murder; loot -- and the worst crime of all: their constant raids of villages to enslave kidnapped boys and girls.
Crawley says that while the LRA 'does not threaten the stability of the government, its violence at one time displaced up to 1.8 million people, creating a humanitarian catastrophe, particularly when they were forced into internally displaced persons camps for their protection."
And while there have been no recorded LRA attacks in northern Uganda itself since August 2006, their leader Kony is still very much at large and active in neighbouring countries such as the Congo. He's being sought by Interpol.
Atrocities conducted against Ugandan girls:
The atrocities the LRA and their 'holy leader' have committed against the population in three African countries are truly horrendous: noses and limbs are chopped off, boys kidnapped and forced into the militia and little girls kidnapped as 'wives', forced to live in the jungle and raise their children, born from rape.
Kony himself has been known to father more than 100 children from these child-rapes. On one day alone, he and his gang abducted 139 girls see from the St Mary's College girl's boarding school in the northerly town of Aboke. The rebels stormed the school, broke into the dorms, bound these little girls up with ropes - and herded them away into the bush, to serve as their sex-slaves, described as 'wives'. Some of these girls were forced to stay in their jungle hideouts for years. One Italian nun, who was the deputy headmistress of this school, sister Rachele Fassera, went into the bush herself to try rescue these girls - unsuccessfully.
"Sister Fassera even offered herself to be kidnapped, for the girls to be released, but her pleas were fruitless," some of the girls said later. The last of the Aboke girls to return home only this month was Catherine Ajok, a daughter of Dr Alfred Alyai and Licer Namataka - who managed to escape by trekking through the jungles of northeastern Congo, where she stumbled upon the Ugandan army, which reunited her with her parents... see
Operation Iron Fist
Crawley said: "The Uganda Peoples Defense Force launched "Operation Iron Fist" against LRA rebels in northern Uganda in 2002 and conducted operations against LRA sanctuaries in southern Sudan with the permission of the Sudanese Government. The Sudanese Government had previously supported the LRA." By 2005, the Uganda military had pushed the LRA out of northern Uganda altogether, and Kony and his men escaped to the Democratic Republic of the Congo - on the opposite shore of Lake Albert.
southern Sudan, Central African Republic, Congo...
"They still continue to operate there, in southern Sudan, and occasionally also in the Central African Republic. The negotiated peace agreement of April 2008 failed: Kony refused to sign it, and continues to commit atrocities against local populations."
Yesterday, the LRA hacked another twelve people to death and kidnapped 40 more youngsters from the Congolese village of Yanguma, about 600km north of Kisangani. “They were armed with guns, but used machetes instead. They captured some people and killed others,” said Aruna Sambia, head of a civil society group in nearby Dungu.
Human Rights Watch said that the LRA now is worse than ever because the 1,500 soldiers from the combined forces of Uganda, Congo and South Sudan which had been hunting them down, now are winding down their offensive, launched on December 14. HRW said this offensive has now created 'a violent backlash by fleeing rebel fighters who have killed around 1,000 civilians thus far.'
“One member of my family is dead. He was my uncle. Young people were on their way to the market and were kidnapped. I know three who were taken,” local resident Bienvenu Akembano said. "With the soldiers now pulling out, the rebels attack and wreak their vengeance on all the villages which were left behind, undefended. "There are more and more deaths. More and more kidnappings. They are attacking the population even more now,” he said.
New oil fields:
That's why AFRICOM is also trying to help the Ugandan government. Because Kony clearly is still out there, on the opposite shore of Lake Albert - and he could return any time. ..
Uganda 's 1,4-million previously displaced people have now all returned home, and there's growing prosperity and peace in the country, also because of the recent oil-reserves recently discovered about 800 meters beneath Lake Albert. see
More about Crashed plane, Uganda, Lake victoria, Oil discovery, Lord republican army
More news from Show all 7