Answers sought after Nigeria crash

Olusegun Obasanjo, the Nigerian president, has summoned airline executives and aviation officials to an emergency meeting after three fatal accidents in seven weeks cost a total 224 lives.

The remains of the jet lay on the runway in two pieces
The remains of the jet lay on the runway in two pieces

The announcement on Sunday calls for a meeting at midday on Tuesday, to be attended by all operators.

Remi Oyo, a spokeswoman for the president, said: “To underscore his grave and growing concern for the industry in the aftermath of yesterday’s air crash in Port Harcourt, President Obasanjo is to personally preside over a meeting in Abuja of all stakeholders in Nigeria’s aviation sector.”

The president cancelled a trip to Portugal to hold the meeting.

Oyo said the meeting would be at State House in Abuja, the executive headquarters of Nigeria’s federal government.

“The meeting is to be attended by all airline operators in the country, aviation industry officials and other local and international aviation sector specialists,” she added.

On Saturday, a Sosoliso Airlines McDonnell Douglas DC-9 passenger jet flying from Abuja crashed on arrival at Port Harcourt airport, an oil centre in the south of the country. Of the 110 on board, 103 people were killed instantly, two more died of their injuries overnight and the remaining five on board were injured, officials said.

John Onaiyekan, a cleric in Abuja, said 71 schoolchildren from the city’s Ignatius Loyola Jesuit College died in the crash.

Paris-based aid agency Medecins Sans Frontieres said two of its international employees, a French national and an American citizen, also died.

This crash came just seven weeks after another airliner exploded and ploughed into fields north of Lagos, killing all 117 on board, and a month after two pilots were killed when a light plane operated by a Nigerian oil company crashed outside the northern city of Kaduna.

In all, 1019 people have been killed in 39 serious aviation accidents in Nigeria since 1991.

Following the Lagos crash Obasanjo accused Nigeria’s aviation safety agencies of corruption and vowed to plug the loopholes which have seen airport facilities deteriorate and allowed the country’s private operators to use ageing, badly maintained jets on domestic routes.


As accident investigators sifted through the wreckage on Sunday they searched for the cause of the crash.

Tommy Oyelade, an aviation ministry official, said investigators had recovered the plane’s flight recorders.

A large number of children were among the passengers

A large number of children were
among the passengers

Sam Adurogboye, spokesman for the National Civil Aviation Authority, said the weather had been stormy at the time of the crash, and witnesses said they saw lightning as the plane approached the runway.

The twisted, charred wreckage lay in two principal parts several hundred metres apart.

Airport officials directed family members to local mortuaries. At one overcrowded hospital, bodies were heaped together due to lack of capacity.

Established in 1994, Nigerian-owned Sosoliso began scheduled flights as a domestic airline in July 2000 and now flies to six Nigerian cities, according to its website. The Port Harcourt crash is the first recorded by the airline.

Crash history

Nigerian airports have come under criticism in recent months following a string of near-misses and an incident in which an Air France passenger jet crashed into a herd of cows on the runway at Port Harcourt.

This is the first crash for Sosoliso,an airline set up in 1994

This is the first crash for Sosoliso,
an airline set up in 1994

Abiye Sekibo, Nigeria’s transport minister, blamed the latest crash on a drainage ditch.

“You can see that it hit this culvert,” he said. “This is the reason for this accident. The man lost control because he hit this culvert.”

General Mike Okiro, the deputy inspector heading operations for the Nigerian police, agreed saying the plane had burst into flames as it tore itself up on the soft grass alongside the tarmac.

“If you were here yesterday, you would have seen pieces of human flesh all over the place, burnt beyond recognition,” he said.

The airport, the main international and domestic terminal in southern Nigeria and the oil-rich Niger Delta, remained closed to all other traffic on Sunday.

Source : News Agencies

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