17 March 2008

Nigeria: Missing Plane Found, Crew Dead

Lagos — The Trade Wings Aviation Beach aircraft that disappeared from radar screens on Saturday while on a flight from Lagos to the Obudu Cattle Ranch in Cross River State was found yesterday, with its three crew members dead. A statement by the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) said the aircraft was found at Igabu village in Yala local government area of Cross River State.

Earlier yesterday, Managing Director of Trade Wings Aviation Services, Captain Nogie Meggison, had said the Accident Investigation Bureau reported that the aircraft was found at Iyala, near Ababaliki, in Ebonyi State. The statement identified the crew members as Augustine Egbedin, Captain Tanko and a female standardisation officer, Fuberata A.

The airline company claimed that the aircraft was in a good state before it took off on Saturday morning. A friend of the pilot who spoke to our correspondent on condition of anonymity said one of the pilots had three wives and nine children.

The missing plane was declared missing hours after the aircraft lost contact with the Port Harcourt control tower on Saturday morning.

The Minister of State Air Transport Mr Felix Hassan Hyet, in a telephone conversation had stated that rescue operations could not take place on Sunday morning due to bad weather. According to him, the governor of Cross River, Chief Liyel Imoke, assisted in mobilising the local land search of the area where from where the aircraft last communicated with the control tower.

It could be recalled that the aircraft departed Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos at about 7.35 am on Saturday with a pilot, one crew member and a standardization officer. It was supposed to pick a state governor at Bebi Airstrip, thought to be Imoke.

Wings Aviation aircraft was reported missing at about 8.45am at Obudu cattle Ranch in Cross River State when it lost contact with Port Harcourt Airport.

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