9:41AM BST 04 Jun 2012
The Boeing MD-80 plane, operated by Dana Air, was flying from Abuja, the capital, to Lagos. Rescue workers have so far pulled at least 62 bodies from the wreckage of a plane that crashed in Nigeria’s largest city of Lagos, an official said as searches pressed on Monday at the site of the devastation.
A church, a two-storey residential building and a printing shop were badly damaged. The number of those killed on the ground remained unclear.
Smoke was still rising from the scene and water trucks were also brought in to douse the smouldering wreckage.
“We were lucky. We just finished our church service when this thing happened,” one resident said.
Around 10 bodies were recovered from a collapsed building at the crash site, but rescuers blamed raging fires for the slow pace of the rescue effort. Police were also said to have been overwhelmed by looters who arrived shortly after the crash (REUTERS)
Some reports suggested that the plane hit power cables as it descended towards the runway, while others said that it hit a furniture shop and then into residential buildings in the neighbourhood. The plane did not appear to have nosedived, but rather land on its belly. Goodluck Jonathan, theNigerian president, declared three days of national mourning, while Princess Stella Oduah, the aviation minister, was last night on her way tot the scene.
Those near the crash site, in the busy neighbourhood of Iju, described scenes of chaos as emergency vehicles battled to get through heavy traffic and gathering crowds.
Around 10 bodies were recovered from a collapsed building at the crash site, but rescuers blamed raging fires for the slow pace of the rescue effort. Police were also said to have been overwhelmed by looters who arrived shortly after the crash.
Nigeria’s Civil Aviation Authority Harold Denuren said that all the passengers on Sunday’s Dana Air flight died. He did not say how many were on the flight.
The plane’s cockpit recorder was located following the crash and handed to police.
Hundreds of residents swarmed the area to see what had happened. “It was flying low with a lot of noise for about five minutes before it crashed into the residential area,” one resident said. “It then burst into flames.”
Another resident, Tunji Dawodu, said he had been coming out of church at around 3.30pm when he heard “a loud noise”.
“I thought it was an explosion,” he said. “Then there was a huge flame from the building where the plane has crashed into.”
Olumide Ohuanyo, a Nigerian aviation expert, told the Daily Telegraph that he was close to the scene but unable to get nearer because of the growing crowds.
“It’s just chaos right now. A lot of people live in that area and the roads are very bad,” he said. “The crowds have surrounded the place, making it very difficult for emergency services to get through to the crash site.
“We can see a lot of flames and smoke, but not exactly what has been hit. There will definitely have been many more fatalities on the ground.”
Relatives of those onboard began gathering at both Lagos and Abuja airports desperate for news of their loved ones. Among those on board were said to be Ibrahim Shekarau, the former governor of the restive state of Kano who state as a presidential candidate in last year’s nation election, Levi Ajuonuma, the spokesman of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, as well as some senior military officials, including three army generals.
Nigerian Aviation News website reported that the plane had suddenly disappeared from the radar scope of the Lagos Air Traffic Control, and communication from the tower to the pilot was lost. There were reports that the crew issued a May Day call around 11 miles from Lagos after the plane caught fire.
A spokesman for Dana Air confirmed one of its planes had crashed but could not immediately provide further details.
“I can confirm that one of our planes crashed today on the outskirts of Lagos,” Tony Usidamen told AFP. “We lost communication with the aircraft.”
Since its inaugural flight from Lagos to Abuja in November 2008, Dana Air has grown to become one of Nigeria’s leading airlines operating more than 18 daily flights to Abuja, Lagos, Port Harcourt and Uyo, carrying up to 1.26 million passengers up to December 2011. According to the airline’s website, it was awarded the title of “Best Safety and Security Conscious Airline in Nigeria” at the Security Watch Africa Awards in September 2010.
According to a Nigerian aviation blog, the plane was a former Alaska Airlines plane built in 1990.
The fatal crash follows another incident involving a Dana Air plane just days earlier. On May 10, a plane flying from Uyo made an emergency landing at Lagos Airport, following ‘loss of hydraulic pressure’.
Lagos has a population of around 15 million and its international airport is a major hub for West Africa, seeing 2.3 million passengers pass through it in 2009.
Air crashes are not uncommon in Nigeria, Africa’s second biggest economy, which has a poor airline safety record.
using the number/letter grid:
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
A B C D E F G H I
J K L M N O P Q R
S T U V W X Y Z
A = 1 J = 1 S = 1
B = 2 K = 2 T = 2
C = 3 L = 3 U = 3
D = 4 M = 4 V = 4
E = 5 N = 5 W = 5
F = 6 O = 6 X = 6
G = 7 P = 7 Y = 7
H = 8 Q = 8 Z = 8
I = 9 R = 9
3549 11365341 45
his path of destiny = 45 = Things went horribly wrong.
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