Nigeria in mourning after air crash

Nigeria is in three days of mourning following the crash of a Dana Air plane during its final approach to Murtala Muhammed International airport in Lagos on 3 June, killing all 153 passengers on board and at least ten people on the ground.

The Dana Air flight, coming from the capital Abuja, crashed in the densely-populated Iju Ishaga district of Lagos, some 18 km north of the airport's runway. The pilot, an American, had signalled an emergency, and eye-witnesses reported that the plane hit the ground tail first.

The death toll is likely to rise as it is not yet known how many people were in the two-storey residential building and printing works struck by the aircraft. The Chinese embassy in Nigeria has confirmed that six Chinese citizens are among the passengers killed, as is the spokesman for the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Levi Ajuonuma.

The 22 year-old MD-83 airplane was purchased from Alaska Airlines and had been inspected just three days earlier, according to Dana Air authorities.

Nigeria’s aviation authority has not ordered the Lagos-based carrier to ground its planes, although Dana Air cancelled all flights on 4 June as a mark of respect for the crash victims.

Dana Air, which is privately-owned and was established in 2008, has set up two 24-hour hotlines providing information about the crash, tel. 012809888 and 07003593262.

The crash follows an incident in the Ghanaian capital Accra, just the day before, in which a Boeing 727 cargo aeroplane operated by Nigerian-based Allied Air from Lagos overshot the runway and hit a passenger bus, resulting in ten casualties.

From 2005 to 2006 aeroplane crashes in Nigeria claimed some 325 lives but since then standards have been improving, so much so that in 2010 the US government awarded Nigeria a Category 1 air safety rating, signifying its compliance with standards set by the International Civil Aviation Organization, the technical aviation agency attached to the United Nations.