AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE
LAGOS: Nigerian rescuers recovered burnt human remains as investigators probed for clues today after a plane slammed into a Lagos neighbourhood, with all 153 on board killed and more feared dead on the ground.
Police fired tear gas at a surging crowd seeking to get a look at the crash site at one point today morning, while at other spots around the site people desperately sought access to the wreckage to locate missing relatives. They were denied access, with rescue workers combing the scene of the crash — the world’s worst air disaster so far this year — saying the bodies were unrecognisable.
“I just want to be sure of how he died,” one man told rescue workers of his brother.
Wreckage still smouldered at the grisly site near the airport in one of Africa’s largest cities as two cranes cleared away debris and a few thousand onlookers gathered. Local media reported that the crash of the Dana Air Boeing MD83 was Nigeria’s worst since 1992, when a military C-130 went down after takeoff in Lagos, killing all 200 on board. There have been a number of other crashes with more than 100 victims over the past decade in Nigeria but the most recent was in 2005.
Rescue workers had pulled at least 62 bodies from the wreckage by today morning, a rescue official said. President Goodluck Jonathan, who declared three days of national mourning, was due to visit the crash site today, a spokesman said.
At least one of the plane’s two cockpit recorders had been recovered, officials said. The aviation minister said the flight had declared an emergency 11 nautical miles from the airport but the cause of the crash remained unclear. The flight disappeared from radar one minute after having declared the emergency at 3:43 pm local time (1443 GMT), a statement from the minister said.
An aviation source said the pilot had told the tower that he was experiencing problems with the plane, but further details were not yet clear.
The plane, which was flying to Lagos from the capital Abuja, crashed near the airport, damaging buildings and setting off an inferno in the poor and densely populated neighbourhood located in the city’s northern outskirts.
A spokesman for Nigeria’s Accident Investigations Bureau said all 153 people on board the plane were considered dead. The number of those killed on the ground was unclear.
The plane was carrying 147 passengers and six crew. China said six of its nationals were on the plane. The accident followed another plane crash Saturday in the capital of nearby Ghana, killing at least 10.