Sixteen people have been killed after a small passenger plane crashed shortly after take-off outside Lagos airport's domestic terminal, Nigerian authorities say.

The aircraft, operated by Nigeria's Associated Airlines, came down in open ground on Thursday in the West African nation's commercial capital.

The aircraft appeared to make a manoeuvre to avoid a residential area, he said.
 
The Embraer 120 jet, a Brazilian make, was flying to Akure, a town about 225km east of Lagos, and came down just after 9:30am (0830 GMT), Stella Oduah, Nigeria's aviation minister, said in a statement.

The plane's flight recorder had been found and an investigation started into what caused the crash, she said.

Sixteen people were killed and four survived, Usman Muktar, commissioner of the Accident Investigation and
Prevention Bureau, said.

Manzo Ezekiel, a spokesman for the National Emergency Management Agency, told AFP that the plane crashed in
an area within the airport complex where fuel is stored.

Local media reported it was carrying the body of Olusegun Agagu, a former regional governor, and members of his family to his funeral.

Coffin in wreckage

A Reuters reporter saw emergency workers take a coffin out of the wreckage.

"The plane was making a lot of noise before it came down," Rasheed Olajide, an engineer at Lagos airport, told Reuters.

A diplomatic source told Reuters the engine was made by Pratt & Whitney Canada, a unit of United Technologies Corp, PW100.

According to the airfleets.net website, which keeps a record of passenger aircraft worldwide, the aircraft was more than 23 years old.

Embraer said it had offered to help authorities investigate the crash of the 30-seater plane.

Air crashes are relatively common in Nigeria, which despite having Africa's second-biggest economy, has a poor safety record.

In June last year, 163 people died when a Dana Air plane crashed into a Lagos apartment block in the country's worst airline disaster in two decades.

Source: Agencies