Nigeria’s Aviation Minister Stella Oduah has said there are no survivors so far from the passenger plane that crashed on the outskirts of the country’s commercial city of Lagos on Sunday.
All the 153 passengers and six crew members on the McDonnel Douglas MD-83 plane, operated by the Nigerian airline DANA Air, are feared to have died in the crash.
According to the flight’s manifest, the victims include the spokesman of the state-run Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Dr. Levi Ajuonuma, as well as Ehime Aikhomu, son of the late former military Vice President Augustus Aikhomu.
Casualties are also feared on the ground, since the plane crashed into several buildings, setting them on fire.
The Minister said the flight contacted the Control Tower at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport in Lagos at 3.45 pm local time to declare an emergency, and disappeared from the radar one minute later.
She said the flight was 12 nautical miles from the airport when it disappeared from the radar.
Ms. Oduah said the government would ensure a thorough investigation ”to determine the exact cause of the accident”.
Earlier, Director-General of the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) Harold Demuren said investigation had begun to determine the cause of the accident.
Echoing the minister, he said; “We don’t believe there are survivors. Right now our thoughts and and prayers are with the families.”
PANA reported that rescue work at the scene of the accident was hampered by the huge crowd of people who converged there.
Lagos fire service official Rasag Fadipe said the crowd ”prevented us from accessing the scene”, more than two hours after the plane crashed and left a smoldering ruin.
Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan has declared three days of national mourning, during which flags will fly at half mast.