4 June 2012

Nigeria: How the Plane Crashed - Witnesses

Lagos — A witness yesterday said before the DANA airplane nosedived and crashed, it hovered in the sky for several minutes. It eventually crash-landed at about 3:45pm.

Daily Trust observed that the intensity with which the airplane nosedived left noticeable scars on a two storey buildings, an uncompleted storey building, Cherubim and Seraphim Church and a warehouse, all of which were within the vicinity. At a closer look, the first and the second floor of the two storey building have been consumed by inferno that sparked off immediately the plane crash-landed.

Another witness, Yinka Adeolu, said: "My son drew my attention to the plane very close to the ground, wobbling in the air, very strange and not quite three seconds, we could not trace the plane again only to see a mountain of cloud from a building, which was later identified as a warehouse at Popoola Street, Toyin Bus stop, Ishaga Lagos.

The warehouse was badly fragmented too. It was observed that pieces of the plane's carcass were left atop of the warehouse building. Smoke emitting from the wreckage and the affected buildings, overshadowed the whole atmosphere, making it difficult for fire service officers and other rescue officers to move closer and douse the raging fire.

Congregation members within the affected C& S Church who were said to be in the church at the time of the crash were also said to have lost their lives. Daily Trust correspondent also observed that the books stuffed within the affected warehouse aggravated the fire. It was speculated that the warehouse manager may have also lost his life in the incident as his jeep which was parked outside, was badly damaged too.

An uncompleted storey building, located directly opposite the warehouse, was not spared. It was learnt that the owner who had come on inspection of the building just left a few minutes before the plane crash landed. The building has been reduced to rubble. Surprisingly however, a nearby MISPEM Bible Church besides the uncompleted building was left unscathed. Sympathizers and bystanders who had come to catch a glimpse of the tragedy however converted the church rooftop to a stand point.

Rescue efforts

Security personnel found it very difficult to control the crowd. At a point, the army personnel that were drafted there resulted in using force. The huge crowd at the scene prevented emergency rescue teams from performing their duties.

Daily Trust can reveal that a warehouse, two storey buildings, a church and an uncompleted building were affected.

However, unconfirmed reports have it that a middle aged white lady was said to have survived the accident but as at the time Daily Trust reporters left the scene at about 8pm none of the dead passengers on board the plane had been brought out.

Witness said it took 45 minutes before security personnel arrive at the crash site.

Large crowd of people around the site delayed rescue efforts of security agencies as they found it difficult to stop the fire.

Among the security personnel at the point are Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Fire Service of Lagos State and Ogun State, Federal Road Safety of Nigerian, Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA), Nigeria Polish, Red Cross and Army officials.

Youths in the community also came out enmasse to help put out the fire bringing water from different sources to ensure that the fire did not extend to other buildings around the area.

Some of the residents of the area said they din't know that the building was a warehouse.

Among items kept inside the warehouse were books belonging to Thursmail Publishers Limited, stoves and doors.

The General Manager and Chief Executive Officer of LASEMA, Dr. Femi Osanyintolu, said the building on which the plane landed must be brought down for any rescue operation to take place.

According to him, "the heavy presence of people is delaying our work as we cannot continue to collapse the two storey buildings involved to know if there are people inside", he said.

"I can confirm to you that we are on top of the situation as we are working alongside in other rescue agencies to quench the fire. But we have to be cautious in collapsing the building because of the location of the site of the crash in a residential area", he said.

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