At least 153 killed as Nigeria mourns plane-crash victims
Nigeria endured a national tragedy yesterday following the loss of 153 passengers and crew in a plane crash in the densely populated suburb of Lagos.
The Boeing MD-80 plane, operated by Dana Air, was flying from Abuja, the capital, to Lagos before crash landing in the busy residential area.
Some reports suggested that the plane hit the power cables as it descended towards the runway, while others say that it crashed into a furniture workshop, then into the residential buildings and burst into flames.
A church, a two-storey residential building and a printing shop were badly damaged and rescue officials fear that bystanders may have been hurt or killed in the midst of the accident.
Rescue workers were busy pulling out bodies of the victims from the wreckage but the report of casualties from the residential area still remain unclear.
The plane appeared to have landed on its belly rather than nosedived to the ground tearing through roofs, a woodworking studio, a printing press and at least two large apartment buildings in the neighbourhood before coming to a halt.
Crowds of residents surrounded the crash site and one of the witness said: “We heard a huge explosion, and at first we thought it was a gas canister.
“Then there were some more explosions and everyone ran out. It was terrifying. There was confusion and shouting.”
Relatives of those on board began gathering at both Lagos and Abuja airports hoping for the best but fearing the worst, as they awaited news on their loved ones.
President Goodluck Jonathan announced three days of national mourning in the country. A statement released by the officials said the president “prays that God Almighty will grant the families of the victims of the plane crash the courage and fortitude to bear the irreparable loss”.
Air crashes are not uncommon in Nigeria and have suffered as much as ten major crashes since 1992. The last crash happened in 2006 when an ADC airliner carrying 114 passengers burned after take-off from Abuja, killing 96 people.