31 July 2012

Nigeria: Dana Crash Inquest - Our Only Search and Rescue Aircraft Stays in Abuja - NEMA Official

Lagos — An official of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Mr. Adebiyi Razaq, stunned legal practitioners and members of the public attending the sitting of the coroner set up to investigate the Dana plane crash of June 3, in Lagos, when he said that the only rescue aircraft owned by the agency is in Abuja.

Razaq, the Assistant Zonal Coordinator of NEMA in the South-West region, said the question of using a search and rescue aircraft did not even arise on the ill-fated day because the only available aircraft that could have done the job is not kept in Lagos. He made the disclosure in a response to a question by the coroner, Magistrate Alexander Oyetade Komolafe, if NEMA has a rescue aircraft for such incident. The NEMA officer further stated that the problem of the rescue team was compounded by the fact that there was no accessible road to the crash site just as the route that could have aided the intervention of the rescue team was overtaken by sympathizers.

"We had a challenge in getting access to the crash site, the road was too narrow. We had to enter through the rail lines. The equipment we brought could not get to the crash site either," he said.

Also testifying, a police detective, Mr. Obono Ubi, faulted the claim that fire fighters got to the scene of the crash on time.

Ubi, an Assistant Superintendent of Police, attached to Area G command, Ogba, Lagos, said fire fighters did not get to the crash site until two hours after the incident. He also faulted the claim that the explosion that followed was brought under control within 15 minutes. Ubi, who said he got to the scene of the crash at 3.50p.m, told the panel that the casualty figure could have been lesser if the police had fire-fighting equipment as they got information about the crash earlier than any other response agency.

"For over one hour, nobody could penetrate the fire. If fire brigade was under police control and we had fire-fighting equipment, we would have been able to act faster. It was not until after two hours that the fire fighters arrived," he said.

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