Nigeria: 153 Killed As Dana Aircraft Crashes in Lagos

It had less than three minutes to make it to the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, but the Dana Airline flight from Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport, Abuja, with 153 passengers on board could not make it.

It crashed into residential buildings at Olaniyi Street, Iju, a suburb of Lagos, killing more than 30 others on the ground.

The Dana airplane came down at exactly 3.45pm. The plane which obviously had problem in the air tried unsuccessfully to make it but crashed into a church, Mountain of Fire, and a two-storey building.

The impact of the crash on the building led to a massive fire which prevented immediate rescue operations.

Some of those who lost their lives include a northern elder and a retired federal permanent secretary under General Yakubu Gowon and Murtala Muhammed's government, Alhaji Ibrahim Damcida; the spokesman of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Dr. Levi Ajuonuma; a director of Mainstreet Bank, Shehu Sa'ad; Ehimie Aikhomu, Professor Celestine Onwuliri, the husband of the minister of state for foreign affairs, Prof Viola Onwuliri and a family of seven, among others.

It was also alleged that the ill-fated Dana plane had been under repair for several weeks and the airline's station manager protested its use, but the Indian management was said to have insisted it should fly.

The aircraft must have sent distress signals to the airport as its fire fighters from the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) were the first to arrive the scene 30 minutes after the plane went down.

A police chopper was the first to locate the scene of the crash a few minutes after it happened, which facilitated quick mobilisation of fire fighters to the scene.

The fire was eventually put out at about 6.35pm before rescue efforts could begin. As at the time LEADERSHIP left the area, three dead bodies of residents of the two-storey building had been pulled out of the rubble while the plane itself created a deep crater at the church.

About 15 people were said to be inside the church building holding a meeting when the plane went down.

The plane, which flew dangerously for more than five minutes, pulled down a mango tree and an electric pole. "We thank God that it did not hit our house," says Angela Umoru, an eyewitness.

Speaking on the disaster, the director-general of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Harold Denuren, said the flight was heading from Abuja to Lagos, the capital. He further said, "I don't believe there are any survivors."

In August 2010, the US announced it had given Nigeria the FAA's Category 1 status, its top safety rating that allows the nation's domestic carriers to fly directly to the US.

This latest incident came after another plane crash on Saturday night in Accra, capital of the nearby West African nation of Ghana, which saw a cargo plane overshoot a runway and hit a passenger bus, killing at least 10 people.

The Allied Air cargo plane had departed from Lagos and was to land in Accra.

Ill-fated aircraft had escaped crash before

The Dana aircraft which killed all 153 passengers and crew members on board and several other people on the ground is said to have narrowly escaped a crash in the last couple of weeks before yesterday's fatal accident.

LEADERSHIP investigations revealed that the aircraft, Dana Air MD-83 5-RAM, was formerly an Alaska Airline plane built in 1990.

The reports have it that the crashed plane was the same one that had a landing gear problem in Uyo a couple of weeks back.

The aircraft also reportedly developed hydraulic problem midair and had to make emergency landing three weeks ago in Lagos.

The manufacturers of the MD aircraft are said to have stopped producing it and are in the process of phasing it out.

Jonathan declares 3-day mourning

President Goodluck Jonathan yesterday declared a three-day period of national mourning for all those who lost their lives in the Dana plane crash in Lagos.

He also ordered a full-scale investigation into the remote and secondary cause of the crash.

Accordingly, Jonathan, who has cancelled all his public engagements scheduled for today, has also directed that the Nigerian flag be flown at half-mast for the three days of national mourning.

A statement by his special adviser on media and publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati, also noted that, in compliance with the president's directive, "the minister of aviation, Princess Stella Oduah, has already left Abuja for Lagos to oversee the crash investigations and present an interim report to the federal government as quickly as possible".

The president, while mourning those who died in the crash, prayed God to grant the families of the victims of the plane crash the courage and fortitude to bear their irreparable loss.

The statement made available to LEADERSHIP last night reads in part: "The president joins all Nigerians in mourning all those who lost their lives in the plane crash which has sadly plunged the nation into further sorrow on a day when Nigerians were already in grief over the loss of many other innocent lives in the church bombing in Bauchi State."

Lagos State governor Mr. Babatunde Fashola has condoled with the families of victims of the air crash.

Governor Fashola, in a statement signed by his special adviser on media, Mr. Hakeem Bello, also expressed shock at the incident which, reportedly, occurred as the aircraft approached the vicinity of the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Ikeja.

The governor expressed deep sorrow that the expectations of the families to welcome their loved ones at the end of the journey was cut short in such an abrupt and unexpected manner, adding that the experience could be traumatic.

Shekarau is alive, not involved in the crash

Rumours circulating in the social media claiming that former governor of Kano State and ANPP's presidential candidate in last year's presidential election, Malam Ibrahim Shekarau (Sardaunan Kano), had died in the Dana Air crash yesterday are false, a member of Sardaunan Kano Media Committee, Malam Gali Sadiq, has assured.

Speaking with LEADERSHIP yesterday's night, Gali dispelled the rumour, saying: "Malam Shekarau spent the whole of yesterday attending weddings and chairing meetings, and did not venture out of Kano State, not to talk of travelling to Lagos."



Dana Airline flight from Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport, Abuja to Muritala Muhammed International Airporrt, Lagos, with 153 passengers on board crashed on Sunday evening.

It crashed into residential buildings at Olaniyi Street, Iju, a suburb of Lagos, killing more than 30 others on the ground.