by Isi Esene
An Associated Airlines chartered flight crashed earlier today in Lagos shortly after takeoff around 9.30am from the Murtala Mohammed International Airport.
The plane, an Embraer 120 aircraft, which was carrying the body of the late former governor of Ondo state, Olusegun Agagu was said to have suffered engine failure and crash-landed close to the airport fuel depot killing several people on board.
According to reports, the engine of the 20-seater aircraft’s engine failed on take off resulting in it crash-landing and subsequently bursting into flames.
“It was going to Akure (in the southwest). The engine failed on takeoff and it crash-landed and burst into flames,” said Supo Atobatele, spokesman for the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NEMA).
Manzo Ezekiel, NEMA spokesperson also confirmed the crash saying, “A plane has crashed in Lagos this morning shortly after takeoff at the Murtala Mohammed Airport, Ikeja, Lagos.
“The crash occurred around the fuel dump within the vicinity of the airport as the plane was flying to Akure.
“The National Emergency Management Agency, upon getting alerts immediately after the crash from the COSPASS SARSAT equipment at its Mission Control Centre mobilized the response agencies for search and rescue operations. so far, eight bodies and one survival have been recovered from the site”, Ezekiel stated.
According to reports from Muhtar Usman, a commissioner with the Nigerian Accident Investigation Bureau, at least 14 people were killed in the crash while others are injured.
The flight data recorder and the cockpit voice recorder have both been recovered in the wreckage.
Olayemi Fawole, one of the people who witnessed the crash, said the plane wobbled in the air for a moment before making the deadly plunge into the fuel dump within the vicinity of the airport.
“The plane was shaking in the air for some time before it came down. It was as if the pilot was struggling to get the plane steady in the air before it finally came down.
“Immediately it crashed, we got to see if we could rescue the casualties but we were able to pull a woman out before the plane got engulfed in flames.”
According to Fawole, an aviation worker, “I counted eight people dead and the woman who survived was taken to an Airforce facility for proper medical treatment.”
Sources say the plane is the second aircraft flying to Akure, the Ondo state capital for the burial of the late former governor.
Reports indicate that organised rescue operation did not get underway until about an hour after the crash.
Among the victims of the crash were relatives of Agagu, who were accompanying the body. Also believed to be on board were at least a member of the Okusanya family, owners of MIC Caskets, a popular funeral business in Lagos.
This crash is happening one year after the Dana Air crash incident which killed 153 people at Iju -Ishaga on Sunday, June 3, 2012.