Mon, June 04, 2012
World > Africa

Nigeria mourns over 193 people killed in worst plane crash

2012-06-03 22:42:44 GMT2012-06-04 06:42:44(Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

LAGOS, June 3 (Xinhua) -- Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan declared three days of national mourning after one of the West African country's worst plane crashes killed at least 193 people in the economic capital Lagos on Sunday.

The Nigerian leader has directed that the Nigerian flag be flown at half-mast for national mourning.

A Dana Air plane from Nigeria's capital city Abuja crashed in a residential area in the Lagos metropolis, killing the 153 people on board and 40 others living inside a two-story building hit by the aircraft, according to the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA).

The victims include at least four Chinese passengers, the Chinese Embassy in Africa's most populous country told Xinhua.

The NCAA confirmed the air crash barely 24 hours after a Nigerian Allied Cargo airplane from Lagos crash-landed in Ghana, killing at least 10 people.

A Xinhua reporter at the crash site said more than 40 people living in the two-story building, each having six flats, were entrapped inside after the crash.

A wild inferno engulfed the building and proved hard to be put off by fire fighters, according to the Xinhua reporter.

He said a team of mobile and conventional police and rescue workers, including the National Emergency Management Agency, were on the ground to evacuate victims of the incident.

"Military helicopters have also been hovering around the area to provide security," the Xinhua staff added.

He witnessed dead bodies being evacuated from inside the building, while the fire fighters, who arrived quite late, could not extinguish the inferno as they ran out of water.

Security personnel deployed in the area also had difficulty in controlling the large crowd of sympathizers around the building.

Ganiu Afolabi, a resident in the area, told Xinhua that there was palpable fear that the building may collapse soon, due to wild fire.

"It is obvious that the building is now weak and we just pray it doesn't fall off because the fire cannot be quenched," he said.

The government made a quick response to the incident shocking the nation. While mourning over the deaths, the Nigerian president decided to cancel all his public engagements scheduled for Monday.

He has also ordered the fullest possible investigation into the accident.

A statement from his office said Minister of Aviation Stella Oduah has already left Abuja for Lagos to oversee the crash probe and is expected to present an interim report to the federal government as quickly as possible.

The Nigerian leader assures air travelers that every possible effort will be made to ensure that the right lessons are learnt from the tragic loss of valuable lives in Sunday's plane crash and that further measures will be put in place to boost aviation safety in the country.

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