Bimbo Odukoya, wife of the founder of Fountain of Life Church, Lagos, was last night feared to be among the 103 passengers that perished in the Sosolis">

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103 perish in Sosoliso air disaster....Pastor Odukoya feared dead

Posted by By Chris Ikwunze, Enyeribe Ejiogu (Port-Harcourt), Bashir Umar, Goldwin TSA (Abuja) Linus Obogo and Uche Usim (Lagos) on 2005/12/10 | Views: 2320 |

103 perish in Sosoliso air disaster....Pastor Odukoya feared dead

Pastor Bimbo Odukoya, wife of the founder of Fountain of Life Church, Lagos, was last night feared to be among the 103 passengers that perished in the Sosoliso flight that crash-landed yesterday at the Port Harcourt International Airport.

Pastor Bimbo Odukoya, wife of the founder of Fountain of Life Church, Lagos, was last night feared to be among the 103 passengers that perished in the Sosoliso flight that crash-landed yesterday at the Port Harcourt International Airport.

Attempts to reach her husband were unsuccessful last night. However, another person that picked a call made to his cell phone said that the man of God could not be reached immediately because "he was busy."

Asked specifically to confirm if Mrs Odukoya was on board the ill-fated flight, the respondent said: "We donít have any information in that regard."

Indeed, less than two months after the crash of Bellview Airline 210 aircraft in Lisa, Ogun State, killing all 117 persons on board, the countryís aviation industry was again hit by another tragic incident as a Sosoliso Boeing 727 passenger plane crashed on landing in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.

Carrying 110 people on board, including crew members, the airline, with registration number 5N-BFD, which was heading from Abuja to Port Harcourt crash landed and burst into flames 1,200 meters to the threshold of the Port Harcourt runway 21 at about 2:08pm.

The crash was reportedly caused by thunderstorms.
According to the Permenent Secretary, Ministry of Aviation, Tony Oyelade of the 103 passengers, 75 of the victims were students of Loyola Jesuit College, Abuja who were returning on holiday.
The Minister of Information, Mr Frank Nweke Jr. also confirmed the figure on NTA network news last night.

Among other passengers on board the ill-fated aircraft was Mr. Cookeo Gam, husband to former Secretary to the Rivers State Government.
Described as horrific, an airport source said the scene of the crash was littered with corpses, with some burnt beyond recognition, while about seven survivors were taken to hospital.
An eyewitness told Sunday Sun that there was a big bang immediately the aircraft touched down, letting off a big ball of flames.

According to a reliable industry source, the pilot, Capt Adebayo Benjamin, described by aviation experts as the best pilot in the Sosoliso fleet, was unaware of the heavy rain which was preceded by smashing thunder strikes, suggesting that the enroute weather report was not thorough.

The pilot was said to have met the strikes suddenly and found himself helpless.
Briefing newsmen on the unfortunate crash, the Head, Public Affairs of the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), Mr Bem Ben Goong, said there was a rapid rescue operation since a helicopter that was heading to the same airport was reported to have been following the aircraft and monitored its movement till it crashed.

"The aircraft was actually on the final descent to Port Harcourt runway. It caught fire mid air at about 1,200 meters to the threshold.
About seven persons were rescued alive. 60 dead bodies have so far been recovered and the rescue operations is still on," he said.
Rescue operations involving a combined team of Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) fire service officials, NAMA search and rescue men, Shell oil company, Agip, Elf and Rivers State ambulances were immediately mobilised. No fewer than 100 policemen were also drafted to ensure a hitch-free rescue exercise.

Governor Peter odili was at the scene of the crash with tears welled up in his eyes.
The Nigeria Airforce also deployed its helicopters to join in the evacuation of casualties to hospitals.
At the crash site yesterday, relations of victims reportedly hauled stones and other objects at the security personnel who allegedly prevented them from going close to the scene.
Gripped by the tragic incident, President Olusegun Obasanjo yesterday cancelled his trip to Lisbon, Portugal, just as the crash equally forced the Aviation Minister, Prof Babalola Borishade, to cut short his trip to Canada where he went to discuss issues of safety oversight with the International Civil Aviation Organization and the International Air Transport Association officials. He is billed to brief the press on return.

When Sunday Sun visited Sosoliso Airlines office at the General Aviation Terminal yesterday evening, several family members of the passengers wearing sullen faces besieged the office asking for a clearer detail of survivors. But the personnel at the counter kept mum as they claimed to be waiting for briefing from Port Harcourt where the crash occurred.

The airline has, however, suspended its operations as a way of commiserating with those who died in the crash. Some of the staff on duty were all in tears.
Although no passenger manifest had been released, an official of the Federal Aviation Authority (FAAN), Mr. O.A. Adeyefe, said they were still awaitng the manifest and to establish the cause of crash as at press time.

As a result of the crash, the Port Harcourt airport has been closed down to pave way for uninterrupted rescue operations. All Port Harcourt bound flights have been diverted to Enugu, Lagos and Calabar.
Meanwhile, as confusion trailed the crash of the Sosoliso Aircraft at Port Harcourt, the station manager of the airline, Chinedu Obiaju, said the manifest had been seized by the men of State Security Service (SSS).

Relations of suspected victims on board the aircraft had besieged the local wing of the Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport to check the manifest but they left disappointed.

News of the crash had jolted politicians of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) who were in Abuja for the partyís convention, some of whom were feared to be on board the ill-fated flight.

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