Search Site: OnlineNigeria

Close






Tragedy hits Nigeria again!

Posted by Oluseto Olatuyi and Soni Daniel on 2005/12/10 | Views: 1142 |

Tragedy hits Nigeria again!


A TOTAL of 103 passengers were confirmed dead in Port-Harcourt, Rivers state, on Saturday in yet another major air crash involving a private airline’s plane.

A TOTAL of 103 passengers were confirmed dead in Port-Harcourt, Rivers state, on Saturday in yet another major air crash involving a private airline’s plane.

Those killed were reportedly burnt beyond recognition and the airport was immediately closed to traffic by the aviation authorities.

The crash, which occurred at the Port-Harcourt International Airport, involved an A DC-9 aircraft belonging to the Sosoliso Airlines. The aircraft, with registration number 5N-BFD, left Abuja to Port Harcourt 12.18 pm.

The aircraft, according to aviation authorities, was 1,200 metres to touch down on runway 21 when it crashed. It took off from Abuja about 12.18p.m and crashed at 2.00 p.m. when it ran into a thunderstorm.

About 50 of the passengers on board the aircraft were students of the elite school, Loyola Jesuit College, Abuja, who were going home.

Seven surviving passengers were taken to the hospital, Chika Onah of the Nigerian Red Cross said.

Students from a Catholic secondary school in Abuja were aboard the plane, returning home for the holidays, according to the Rev. Felix Femi Ajakaye, spokesman for the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria in the nation's capital, Abuja.

The students, who ranged in age from 10 to 18 years old, attended Loyola Jesuit College in Abuja, the reverend said. It is unclear if any of them were among the survivors.

The airlines' managing director Oscar Ikwuemesi confirmed "there were a large number of children aboard the flight," without offering any details.

A search-and-rescue operation is under way at the airport, and bodies are still being recovered, said Femi Shittu, acting director of Nigeria's federal aviation authority.

The domestic Sosoliso Airlines plane was coming in from the nation's capital of Abuja during bad weather, though it remained unclear what caused the crash, Nigerian government spokesman Femi Fani-Kayode said.

"We will get to the bottom of it, we will ascertain the cause and the government and Mr. President (Olusegun Obasanjo) will do everything within his power to ensure that this sort of thing does not happen within our airspace again," he said.

Witnesses said an explosion and massive fireball followed the crash, engulfing the plane in flames. The Associated Press reported that the plane was a DC-g.

Government spokesman Femi Fani-Kayode pledged a full investigation into the cause of the crash.

The Head, Public Affairs of Nigeria Airspace Management Agency, Mr. Ben Bem Goong briefing journalists in Lagos said seven people were rescued alive.

He added that 60 dead bodies were recovered from the debris by the combined team of search and rescue comprising of NAMA, the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria and other rescue organization.

Shedding more light on the crash, Goong explained that a helicopter operating in the areas sighted the aircraft as it went down.

The helicopter followed it down and commenced rescue operation.

Meanwhile the manifest of those on board has not been released by the airline.

There was nobody at the airline’s office in Lagos when our correspondent called at it Opebi office in Lagos.

The airline’s Commercial Manager, Mr. Chimaobi Oji in a telephone interview, however expressed condolences to the families of victims of the crash.

He said the aircraft, which was on a normal schedule flight to Port Harcourt and had earlier done a flight from Port Harcourt to Abuja.

He added that the plane in was in good condition before the flight

Sosoliso airline was registered in 1994 but started domestic operation in 2000 as private carrier.

Sources told Sunday Punch that the manifest of the Sosoliso airline that crashed on Saturday had been given to the State Security Service in Abuja.

A source, however, said the manifest would be released on Monday.

Reports indicated that the plane burst into flame before it crashed near the airport.

While a rescue team quickly moved into the scene of the disaster, the authorities used the electronic media to plead with owners of ambulances to make them available to convey the victims.

Fifty-six bodies have been recovered and seven people were taken to the hospital. The Media Assistant to the Director general of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority [NCAA], Mr. Sam Adurogboye, confirmed the plane crash but he said he had no further details.

“Yes, there was a crash... We are trying to establish contact with Port Harcourt,” he said.An airport worker, who craved anonymity, gave a gory picture of the site, saying: “The place where I’m standing now is scattered with corpses.”

He claimed that “many of those burned beyond recognition” — were evacuated to mortuaries. The plane had shattered “into many pieces, scattered all over the ground,” and only two people survived, the airport employee said.

A search-and-rescue team was at the scene of the crash, an official at Port Harcourt’s control tower said, without providing any further details.

The nation’s aviation sector had witness high fatality in last three months beginning with the crash of a Bellview Boeing 737 aircraft at a village in Ogun state killing 117 people on board.About three weeks ago an American registered aircraft crashed in Kaduna shortly after take off from Kaduna Airport killing two people.

The pilot, Captain Shuaibu Alli, an American registered pilot, was said to be the son of the People’s Democratic Party National Chairman, Alhaji Ahmadu,

Other incidents involved an Associated Air aircraft with 17 passengers on board from Benin lost its nose gear as it on the runway of the Murtala Muhammed Airport while taxing.

This incident was followed by case of bird strike in Abuja involving an Aero Contractor aircraft.

The flight with about 100 people including the Bauchi State Governor, Alhaji Adamu Mua’zu and other prominent Nigerians was aborted when birds entered one of its engines at Abuja airport.

Chanchangi Boeing 727 aircraft with 66 passengers made an air-return because of hydraulic leakage.

These incidents had prompted the Minister of Aviation, Dr. Babalola Borishade to inaugurate a task force to verify of airworthiness of aircraft and operational competencies of commercial aircraft operators in Nigeria.

A Bellview Airlines Boeing 737 crashed on October 23, 2005, at Lisa village in Ogun state, killing all the 117 persons onboard.

The plane crashed three minutes after takeoff from the local wing of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport [MMA], Ikeja, Lagos.

The nation’s aviation sector had witness high fatality in last three months beginning with the crash of a Bellview Boeing 737 aircraft at a village in Ogun state killing 117 people on board.

About three weeks ago an American registered aircraft crashed in Kaduna shortly after take off from Kaduna Airport killing two people.

The pilot, Captain Shuaibu Alli, an American registered pilot, was said to be the son of the People’s Democratic Party National Chairman, Alhaji Ahmadu,

Other incidents involved an Associated Air aircraft with 17 passengers on board from Benin lost its nose gear as it on the runway of the Murtala Muhammed Airport while taxing.

This incident was followed by case of bird strike in Abuja involving an Aero Contractor aircraft.

The flight with about 100 people including the Bauchi State Governor, Alhaji Adamu Mua’zu and other prominent Nigerians was aborted when birds entered one of its engines at Abuja airport.

Chanchangi Boeing 727 aircraft with 66 passengers made an air-return because of hydraulic leakage.

These incidents had prompted the Minister of Aviation, Dr. Babalola Borishade to inaugurate a task force to verify of airworthiness of aircraft and operational competencies of commercial aircraft operators in Nigeria.

Meanwhile, Rivers State Government lost many of it natives natives to the Sunday plane crash, involving a Sosoliso Airlines plane.

Prominent among them, were the state commissioner for Education, Prof Thompson Okujagu and Mr. Rowland Cookey-Gam, the architect who designed the new government house, which was inaugurated by President Olusegun Obasanjo last week.

A top Government official, who confirmed the death of the two officials, said that many indigenes of the state perished in the plane crash.

“This is a major loss to the state and we are very touched by this unfortunate incident”, the official said on the phone.

Cookey-Gam, whose wife is the immediate past Secretary to the Rivers State Government and member of the Nigerian Liquiefied Natural Gas Company, was in Abuja for official business.

The death of the officials and many others yet to be identifed, threw the people of the state into a morning mood and forced the state governor, Dr. Peter Odili, to return to Port Hacourt on Sunday.

Before his return, the State Police Commissioner, Mr. Sam Adetuyi and top aides of the governor had supervised the rescue operation at the airport.

The state government-owned Fire Service backed by ambulances and trucks from the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria, Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria and other firms in the state, carried out the rescue.

SUNDAY PUNCH, December 11, 2005

Read Full Story Here.... :
Leave Comment Here :



Add Comment

* Required information
1000
Captcha Image

Comments (1)

Gravatar
New
Fay(Katy, Texas, US)says...

Actually translates to bravehearted.