Three deaths at start of Safari Rally

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The Independent Online

Three mechanics were drowned on yesterday's first day of the world championship Safari Rally. The trio were killed when their Land Rover support vehicle was washed away by a flash flood as they tried to negotiate a river crossing.

The accident happened near Ole Kejiado, about 65 kilometres south of the rally's Nairobi headquarters.

Kenya's traditional Easter event has a notorious reputation for sudden changes in the weather. Tracks and bone-dry river beds have been known to fill in seconds as storms herald the start of the rainy season. Tropical storms have already cut more than 200km from the near-3,000km test, which finishes tomorrow.

Sweden's Kenneth Eriksson gained a narrow first-day lead in his works Subaru. He battled the heavy rain, electrical trouble and fierce opposition from Mitsubishi driver Tommi Makinen to gain a 27-second advantage.

Colin McRae, the world champion, finished third, 82 seconds behind his team-mate Eriksson.