"It was the fishermen ... who led us to the site," Sobakam said Sunday. "It's close enough that we could have seen it from the airport - but apparently there was no smoke or fire."
A U.S. Embassy official who saw the crash site from a plane Monday said it would have been impossible to find from the air without coordinates provided by searchers on the ground. He said searchers saw nothing when they flew over the site Sunday.
"It's not what you expect - a bunch of trees knocked down and charred," said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to media. "It's just a big muddy hole, like many others out there."
The U.S. and France are among the nations providing aircraft and other equipment to help Cameroon. A U.S. National Transportation Safety Board team was expected to arrive Tuesday.
Capt. James Ouma, Kenya Airways' chief pilot, said Douala airport does not have weather radar. He said such equipment is not mandatory because airplanes are required to have their own weather radars.
Another source close to the investigation, who also spoke on condition of anonymity, said officials want to know if the storms caused the plane to lose power in both engines, and if a power failure caused the aircraft's own radar to fail.
They also question why the plane stopped emitting signals after an initial distress call. The plane was equipped with an automatic device that should have sent signals for two days.
Kenya Airways is considered one of Africa's safest airlines. The Douala-Nairobi flight runs several times a week, and commonly is used as an intermediary flight to Europe and the Middle East. Many passengers had been booked to transfer in Nairobi.
The plane was only 6 months old, said Titus Naikuni, chief executive of Kenya Airways.
The last crash of an international Kenya Airways flight was on Jan. 30, 2000, when Flight 431 was taking off from Abidjan, Ivory Coast, on its way to Nairobi. Investigators blamed a faulty alarm and pilot error for that crash, which killed 169 people.
Associated Press writers Elizabeth A. Kennedy and Tom Maliti in Nairobi, Kenya; Rukmini Callimachi in Dakar, Senegal; and Slobodan Lekic in Brussels, Belgium, contributed to this report.
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Officials wanted to know if the storms caused the plane to lose power in both engines and if a power failure caused the aircraft's own radar to fail.
"Whatever happened must have happened very fast, which is usually a sign of catastrophic structural failure," said Patrick Smith, a U.S. based-airline pilot and aviation expert.