National mourning begins in Nigeria after 150 perish in plane crash

2012-06-04 08:49

Nigeria has started three days of national mourning as search-and-rescue operations continued in Lagos, at the scene of one of the country’s worst aviation disasters.

Mourning began today after more than 150 people were feared dead when a domestic passenger plane crashed into a heavily populated area of Lagos city yesterday.

The Dana Airlines flight had 153 passengers on board.

More people were believed to have been killed on the ground.

Government officials said they did not expect to find any passengers alive.

“We don’t believe there are survivors,” Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) chief Harold Denuren said.

Many of the bodies at the crash site were charred beyond recognition, and relatives of the victims flocked to hospitals hoping for any information.

This Day newspaper reported that several high-ranking military and government officials and central bank bureaucrats were on board the plane, which was travelling from Abuja to Lagos, a journey of about 50 minutes.

Also among the passengers was a group of wedding guests.

Aviation Minister Stella Odua said the plane had sent a distress signal minutes before it fell from the sky.

It hit a two-storey building in the heavily populated Iju-Ishaga district in the West African commercial hub as it crashed and broke into pieces. The complex, which was both residential and industrial, caught fire.

The plane – identified as a Boeing MD83 – seemed to have burst into flames as it hit the ground, according to witnesses.

There were reports today that the black box had been found and handed over to police.

President Goodluck Jonathan declared three days of mourning and flags were being flown at half mast.

He ordered a full investigation into the crash.

Lagos State Emergency Management Agency director Femi Osanyintolu told local media that trying to enter the building was proving difficult, as there was concerns it would collapse on rescuers.

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