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Nigerian airliner crashes: 126 dead

The Truth

TRIBE Member

Nigerian Airliner Ploughs Into Suburb, Killing 126
Sat May 4, 3:57 PM ET
By Augustine Madu

KANO, Nigeria (Reuters) - A Nigerian airliner crashed into a densely populated district of the northern city of Kano on Saturday, killing at least 126 people, including some 50 on the ground, aviation officials said.

The airliner, bound for the commercial capital Lagos, plunged to the ground shortly after taking off from Kano airport, plowing into shacks and a mosque before exploding in flames and starting a number of fires, the officials said.

"There were 69 passengers and seven crew members on board," an official of the Federal Aviation Authority of Nigeria told Reuters. "All passengers and crew are feared dead," he added.

Shocked government officials spoke of a "calamity" and said hospitals were struggling to cope with the flood of dead and wounded from the crash site.

With Nigeria's shambolic health services ill-equipped to deal with such emergencies, officials feared the death toll could rise further given the number of people in critical condition.

"I saw more than 50 bodies at the hospital," Ibrahim Ado Gwagwarwa, spokesman for the Kano state governor, told Reuters after visiting the city's main Murtala Muhammed Hospital.

Gwagwarwa said rescue workers were still recovering more bodies from the debris.

"This is a calamity," he said.

"All doctors and nurses in Kano have been mobilized to the Murtala Muhammed Hospital," he added.


A fire service official said dozens of people were killed in their homes when the twin-engined BAC 1-11-500 operated by EAS Airlines crashed into the impoverished residential district of Gwammaja, smashing through 10 buildings before coming to rest and exploding into flames.

The aviation official said the plane had earlier stopped over in Kano on a flight from the central city of Jos.

Poorly equipped fire crews and other emergency workers battled flames and thick smoke from the wrecked buildings, which included a school.

A Christening ceremony was taking place in one of the houses when the plane plowed through it, witnesses said.

The last major Nigerian air crash occurred in November 1996, when a Nigerian Boeing 727 flying from Port Harcourt to Lagos crashed, killing all 142 passengers and nine crew members.

Nigeria deregulated its airline industry in the mid-1980s and many companies sprang up to challenge the monopoly of state carrier Nigeria Airways.

Aviation authorities and passengers have raised concerns about the aging aircraft used by the dozen or so local airline companies. Only last month the Nigerian government announced a ban on the use of aircraft older than 22 years, a move that triggered strong protests from private local airline operators.

EAS is one of several private airlines servicing the country's domestic air routes. Between October 1998 and December 1999, it took delivery of four BAC 1-11-500s, one of the most commonly used passenger aircraft in Nigeria.