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As Death Stalks a Nationís Air Space... 103 Die in P/Harcourt Crash: Bimbo Odukoya on Board

Posted by By Ndubuisi Francis in Lagos, Chuks Okocha in Port Harcourt and Ayodele Aminu in Calabar on 2005/12/10 | Views: 13314 |

As Death Stalks a Nationís Air Space... 103 Die in P/Harcourt Crash: Bimbo Odukoya on Board


Barely two months after a Bellview crash claimed the lives of 117 passengers and crew, the nation yesterday witnessed yet another air tragedy when a Sosoliso Airlines aircraft crashed in Port Harcourt killing 103 passengers, including about 60 students of Loyola Jesuit College, Abuja, who were on board the flight.

Barely two months after a Bellview  crash claimed the lives of 117 passengers and crew, the nation yesterday witnessed yet another air tragedy when a Sosoliso Airlines aircraft crashed in Port Harcourt killing 103 passengers, including about 60 students of Loyola Jesuit College, Abuja, who were on board the flight.


Among some of the eminent passengers believed to have been on board the ill-fated plane were the Rivers State Commissioner for Education, Prof. Thompson Okujagu and motivational preacher and Pastor of Fountain of Life Church, Mrs Bimbo Odukoya. Odukoya was said to have travelled on a first class ticket with the name recorded as Odukoya B.



A son of one Okey Ezenwa, a brother in-law to the Rivers State Governor, Dr. Peter Odili as well as Architect Roland Cookey-Gam whose wife once served as Secretary to the Rivers State Government (SSG) reportedly died in the crash with his daughter.  Cookey-Gam was the consulting architect to the building committee of the new Rivers State Government House.


Out of the passengers and crew on board, there were only five survivors, one of whom was said to be an SSS 3 student of the Jesuit College named Kechi Okwchi who was said to have suffered severe burns.


Soon after the accident, Shell and Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) were said to have helped in rescue efforts, including the movement of recovered bodies and survivors to  the morgue and hospital wards respectively.


The morgue of Braithwaite Memorial Hospital in the Rivers State capital was reported to have been filled with corpses of victims of the air crash until there was no longer space for more. Some of the corpses were later moved to the University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital morgue.


Although no official statement has been issued on the cause of the mishap, eyewitness account said the DC-9 airplane with the inscription Rose of Enugu and registered as 5N-BFD went up in flames before crashing. Sources said the airplane may have been hit by severe thunderstorm which preceded a heavy downpour.


A Chanchangi airplane was reported to have narrowly escaped the same thunderstorm shortly before the Sosoliso plane was hit.


The aircraft, it was gathered, was initially billed to take off from Abuja at 10 am but left at some time after 1pm. due to the environmental sanitation in the Rivers State capital.


Head, Public Affairs of the Nigerian Airspace Mana-gement Agency (NAMA), Mr. Ben Bem Goong who briefed newsmen in Lagos yesterday shortly after the mishap said the aircraft with 110 passengers and crew on board identified as flight OSL 1145 was on its way from Abuja to Port Harcourt before it crashed at about 2.08pm.


According to him, the airplane was on approach and was making its final descent about 1200 metres  to the treshhold for touch down on runway 21 before the crash occurred.


He noted that eyewitness account indicated that the aircraft  had burst into flames before crashing, adding that 60 dead bodies were recovered from the crash. One of the five survivors rescued from the crash was reported to be in a critical condition.


Goong stated that no sooner than the crash occurred than a helicopter that was coming behind it perched close to the ill-fated plane to help in the rescue efforts, which he said, was prompt.


The NAMA image maker disclosed that the Aviation Minister, Dr. Babalola Borishade who is currently in Canada to discuss safety oversight issues has already cut short his stay in that country following the air tragedy and would be returning home today.


As at the time of filing this report, the Port Harcourt Airport had been closed down for the time being following the crash.


The manifest of the aircraft was said to have also been taken away by operatives of the State Security Service (SSS) for vetting.


Borishade is expected to address newsmen today on the air mishap when he is to release the manifest of the ill-fated plane.


But in a statement made available to THISDAY last night by the management, the airline confirmed the crash of its "Flight OSL 1145.


"The management of Sosoliso Airlines confirms the crash of its Flight OSL 1145 that took off from Abuja at 1.26pm local time but unfortunately crashed at the Port Harcourt International Air-port as it was about to land.


"There were 102 passengers on board and seven crew members. Rescue efforts are still on-going. The public can contact Sosoliso on 234-1-4961961 for further information. Sosoliso Airline is working with the relevent authorities as they investigate the unfortunate incident", ths statement said.


Sosoliso Airlines which started operations in 2000 recently marked its five years of operations with funfare with creme-de-la-creme in attendance.


The airline which for many years won awards for route development was  last year adjudged the fastest growing airline in the country. Until the crash yesterday, it had five aircraft in its fleet, including three DC-9 and an MD-81. It was only last week that it took delivery of its fifth aircraft--an MD-82, which is expected to be used for West coast operations.


The crashed DC-9 aircraft was acquired from JAT Airways, a Yugoslav commercial airliner and regsitered then as Yu-AJH.


 

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Comments (3)

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Okfold(Sobe, Edo, Nigeria)says...

I want the meaning of female owan name Ekeke (Edo state)

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Toluwalase Samuel Olufemi(Ijebu, Ogun, Nigeria)says...

Authority belongs to God, once He decrees it is final and binding

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Ikponmwosa Osamede(Edo, Nigeria)says...

Your meaning of Osamede is wrong. Osamede means God has given me a crown