Jonathan weeps at crash site, promises probe


President Goodluck Jonathan on Monday shed tears during his visit to the site where a Dana plane crashed on Sunday evening, killing everyone on board in Lagos.

The president promised a thorough investigation into the incidence that led to the crash

“We have been working very hard to improve aviation in this country,” Mr Jonathan said.

“This particular incident is a major setback for us … I will make sure that this will not repeat itself in the country.”

More than 153 people were killed when the domestic passenger plane travelling from Abuja, crashed into a heavily populated area, Iju Agege, Lagos around 3:45pm on Sunday.

The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) said that 70 bodies have been recovered from the crash site so far and that at least two people were killed on the ground while several others are receiving treatment for burns.

According to the Nigerian Red Cross, a search and recovery operation was still underway.

The operation was initially hampered by the presence of a large crowd at the site. Some onlookers climbed onto the wreckage of the McDonnell Douglas 83 plane and were dispersed by riot police who fired tear gas, the Nigerian Red Cross said.

Many of the bodies were charred beyond recognition. Relatives of the victims flocked to an information centre set up by Dana Airlines, which has been operating in Nigeria for four years.

Government officials said earlier they did not expect to find any passengers alive. “We don’t believe there are survivors,” the Director General, Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) Harold Demuren said.

Four flight attendants and a captain, co-pilot and flight engineer were among those killed when the plane came down. According to the airline’s Abuja manager, “the pilot, co-pilot and flight engineers (were) all foreigners.”

Local media reported that several high-ranking military and government officials and central bank bureaucrats were on board the plane for the journey of about 50 minutes.

Also among the passengers was a group of wedding guests, including children.

Six Chinese citizens were among the dead, Beijing’s embassy in Nigeria said. A German development worker is believed to have been on the flight.

The Lagos State governor, Babatunde Fashola was reported to have taken in three children who were sent on an errand by their parents shortly before the crash, and on their return found their home engulfed in flames, the Vanguard reported.

At least two people listed on the aircraft’s manifest missed the flight.

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“(My brother) was delayed by heavy traffic around the airport,” Mark Pam said. “He was very sad when he missed the flight, but by the glory of God, he is alive today.”

The Military headquarters on Monday also confirmed that General Tahir Umar whose name was on the manifest could not travel on the flight and so he’s alive and well.

The Aviation Minister, Princess Stella Odua said the pilot had sent a distress signal minutes before the accident and that the plane had apparently suffered engine troubles.

Rescue workers battled the fires for hours despite water outages in the area. At some points they resorted to using buckets of water to quell the flames. Witnesses said the scenes around the crash site were chaotic.

Following the accident, President Jonathan declared three days mourning period for the country. Flags were to be flown at half-mast in Abuja and in Lagos on Monday and will continue so till Wednesday.

Nigeria has an abysmal record of air safety, with more than 40 fatal crashes in the last 50 years. However, there has been a marked improvement in the last seven years, after a Boeing 737 belonging to the now defunct Bellview Airlines crashed into a village, killing 117 people.

Source: Channel TV



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