4th June, 2012
Residents of Iju-Ishaga, who thronged to the scene of the crash of a Dana aircraft that happened at Popoola Close by Ogunsoya Street, Paul Bus Stop, have given details of how the incident occurred.
P.M.NEWS learnt from them that many of the residents of the area had become suspicious of the aircraft following the way the pilot was attempting to manoeuvre the aircraft which was flying in an unstable manner.
According to many of them who spoke with P.M. NEWS, the large aircraft which government authorities believe had about 153 passengers on board was seen right from the Agbado-Oke Aro area of Ogun State struggling as it hovered overhead houses and eventually crashing with a loud noise that made a lot of residents run out of their houses.
“When this happened, some of us started trailing it but within seconds after we saw it in Oke-Aro area, it crashed at this place,” one of the residents said pointing to the wreckage of the aircraft.
Another resident of the area who gave his name as Adewale Ogunbanwo, said he was sleeping when he heard the sound of the aircraft and ran outside.
“I was looking at it till it crashed.
“The pilot really tried dodging houses and masts till it finally crashed into the warehouse and the storey-building which also had occupants in it.
“It hit a coconut tree, brought down the branches of a mango tree, hit a cow that was tied to a tree before it crashed.
“I am of the opinion that the pilot was actually looking for a safer place for the plane to crash because if not for his effort, it would have resulted in more casualties,” the eye-witness said.
John Sunday, a freelance journalist, who lives around the area told P.M.NEWS that, “from the way I saw the aircraft moving left and right in the air, I started shouting and telling people that the plane was about to crash.
“I had not finished saying so when we heard a loud bang. We rushed to the scene, but it had been engulfed in flames and there was nothing we could do at the stage but to do our best before government agents and security officials began to arrive the scene.”
Another resident of the area said the storey building which the aircraft crashed into had residents and that when they got to the scene, the trapped residents were screaming for help before the aircraft suddenly exploded with the flame engulfing the house.
According to him, of all the residents in the house as at the period, only an 11-year old boy who fell from one of the rooms where he was sleeping could be rescued alive.
“As I’m talking to you now, all the others trapped, shouted till they became silent,” he said.
Sunday Ola, one of the first people to get to the site, said it happened few minutes to 4pm, adding that the pilot actually struggled before he lost control of the aircraft.
He said before the aircraft hit the building, parts of it had started falling off as it hit objects on its way.
“We saw people’s hands stretching out of the parts of the plane that had fallen off.
“One of the passengers was holding a part of the plane as if he wanted to jump out, but the speed did not allow him. I’m very sure that he died with the others,” he said.
As at 8pm on Sunday, the victims were yet to be rescued as officials of the National Emergency Management Agency, the fire fighters, police and other law enforcement agencies made futile attempts to cordon off the area.
The mangled and shattered parts of the aircraft were also scattered everywhere around the scene of the incident as fire still raged.
An official of the Lagos State fire fighting service, who gave his name simply as Rasak, said he got the distress call concerning the crash and immediately summoned his men who had been trying to put out the fire.
According to him, rescue efforts had become difficult owing to the huge crowd at the scene of the incident.
Officials of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria could not comment as they said it was too early to state exactly what went wrong.
P.M.NEWS however learnt that they had become apprehensive when they lost contact with the aircraft few minutes to landing.
An official of FAAN said airport authority began to make frantic efforts to find it out before they heard of the crash.
While rescue efforts were on, some youths in the area busied themselves as they butchered the dead cow fighting over the pieces of meat.
Some other youths became scavengers as they began picking materials they could lay their hands on at the site of the crash.
When it was getting late and not much had been done, many rescuers began to return home as they believe the rescue efforts would continue on Monday.
They complained about lack of floodlights to ease the task.
By Eromosele Ebhomele & Ayodeji Dedeigbo