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Nigeria mourns air tragedy as toll touches 193

Lagos, Jun 4, 2012, Agencies

Rescuers recover bodies; probe on

A picture taken with a photo camera shows residents of the Iju district of Lagos gathering at the site where a Dana company aircraft crashed into a two-storey building on June 3, 2012 in Lagos. More than 150 passengers are feared dead, an aviation official and residents said. Thick smoke rose from the area near the Lagos airport and flames could be seen coming from the building. Residents said the plane had been coming in low, making a loud noise, when it slammed into the residential area. AFP

Nigerian emergency services recovered more bodies on Monday from the smoldering, ash-covered wreckage of a plane that crashed in the commercial hub Lagos, killing all 153 people on board and over 40 others on the ground.

The pilot of the ill-fated plane had sent out emergency signals while nearing the runway indicating a technical problem but the Boeing MD-83 plane, belonging to Dana Air, went down near the airport shortly afterwards.

President Goodluck Jonathan declared three days of national mourning and ordered an investigation into the cause of Sunday’s accident, in which a McDonnell Douglas MD-83 flown by privately owned domestic carrier Dana Air crashed into the iron roof of an apartment block in the Lagos residential suburb of Agege.

His office said he was scheduled to visit the crash site on Monday afternoon.
“This is really a horrific moment for us here and we sympathies and give condolences to all the victims and families. (There are no) words to express our pain and grief,” Lagos state governor Babatunde Fashola said at the crash site.

“It is saddening, it is simply too much.” The airline said on Sunday 147 people had perished, but in a list published overnight, there were also six crew members on board, taking the total to 153 killed.

Oke Osanyintolu, head of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) for Lagos state, told Reuters on the scene that 80 bodies had been pulled out by around 12:30 pm (1130 GMT). A crane was helping clear away the debris.

Black box found

Search and rescue teams found what they believed to be the plane’s black box flight recorder and handed it over to police, said Bankole Abayomi, director search and rescue for NEMA.

The cause of the crash is still unknown. “They’re still busy recovering bodies. I believe some people were killed on the land as well as on the plane, though we don’t yet have a precise idea of numbers,” said Tunji Oketunbi, a spokesman for Nigeria’s Accident Investigation Bureau.

“Any claim about what caused the crash is pure speculation at the moment,” he added. Though large curious crowds were still gathering around the scene, they were more controlled than on Sunday, when thousands thronged the streets, blocking access to the emergency services.

“This is a crash site, it is an investigation site and we should keep our distance and allow the first responders to do their work,” state governor Fashola told crowds on Monday.

Two Indians among dead

Two Indians were among the victims of the air crash. One was the co-pilot of the ill-fated plane. Rani Malik, the consular officer of the Indian High Commission in Lagos told PTI that the name of the Indian co-pilot was Mahendra Singh Rathore.
Rijo Eldos, a young computer engineer hailing from Neriamangalam in the Idukki district of Kerala, was the other Indian. According to his family in Kochi, Eldos was travelling from Abuja to Lagos to take part in a company meeting. He was working with Reddington Nigeria.


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