14 dead as charter plane crash-lands in Lagos
A Nigerian charter plane with 20 people on board suffered engine failure shortly after takeoff from Lagos on Thursday, crash-landing near an airport fuel depot and killing at least 14 people, officials said.
The aircraft made by the Brazilian firm Embraer and operated by Nigeria's Associated Airlines took off at 9:30 am (0830 GMT) from Lagos's Murtala Mohammed International Airport, the aviation ministry said in a statement.
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The flight destined for Akure in southwestern Ondo state crashed two minutes after takeoff with 13 passengers and seven crew on board, according to the ministry.
There were "six survivors and 14 fatalities," Aviation Minister Stella Oduah said in a statement.
An official from the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency told AFP the cause of the crash was engine failure and that the plane burst into flames after hitting the ground.
President Goodluck Jonathan has called for a probe into the disaster, a statement from his office said.
Jonathan has "ordered a thorough investigation of the crash by all relevant agencies with a view to determining the cause and taking further actions, as may become necessary," it said.
Authorities hardly ever make public results of probes into air crashes in Nigeria.
The plummeting aircraft narrowly missed a series of large, fuel-laden containers that lie between the international and domestic terminals, ultimately crashing in a muddy area, an AFP reporter said.
Rescue workers and firefighters combed through the charred and scattered fuselage, some of which was embedded in the heavy mud.
The aircraft's black box had been located and handed over to aviation officials, Yakubu Dati, an aviation ministry spokesman at the scene told AFP.
The plane was carrying the remains of ex-Ondo state governor Olusegun Agagu, who had been set for burial this weekend, Joe Obi, another aviation ministry spokesman, told AFP.
Reports were circulating in Nigeria's media about prominent figures who may have perished in the crash, but details could not be confirmed.
"We will make the identities of the victims public" after their families have been informed, said the aviation minister.
Associated Airlines was said to be a small domestic charter service, but company staff were not available to comment and aviation officials provided no details about the carrier.
The crash will likely create further unease about air travel within Nigeria.
The accident came just over a year after a plane belonging to another domestic carrier, Dana Air, crashed following an engine failure as it approached Lagos on a flight that originated in the capital Abuja.
All 153 people on board were killed, along with six others on the ground as the plane plunged into a densely packed residential neighbourhood, destroying a three-story building in June 2012.
The day before the Dana crash, a Nigerian-operated cargo flight slammed into a passenger vehicle on the tarmac at the main airport in Ghana's capital Accra, killing 10 people.
Nigeria vowed to clean up its domestic air industry after the Dana Air crash, promising enhanced safety checks and more rigorous standards.
The head of the civil aviation agency was fired earlier this year.
The Dana Air crash was said to have been the deadliest in Nigeria since 1992, when a military C-130 transport plane went down after takeoff in Lagos, killing around 200 people on board.
The country's domestic air industry has been mired in a state of nearly perpetual crisis, with leading carrier Air Nigeria closing operations last year following a wave of labour disputes.
Because of poor service and frequent delays on many internal flights, charter services are common, especially among the political and business elite.
by Joel Olatunde Agoi, Cecile DE COMARMOND © 2013 AFP
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Source : AFP