Report of air crash near Abuja – over 100 feared dead

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Police are reporting that there has been a passenger jet crash near the Nigerian capital of Abuja. The ADC Airlines flight to Sokoto crashed shortly after take-off. More than 100 passengers were on board, many are feared dead.

An emergency spokesperson has stated that the plane burst into flames shortly afterwards, although eyewitnesses believe that there are some survivors from the crash. The task of recovering the dead is underway.

The BBC reports, that the crash was caused by a storm, contradict the area’s METAR, a standard form of aviation weather report, which indicated no major storm or bad weather in the area at the time of take-off. Winds were not severe and cloud cover was broken at 1200 feet, which would not impose a problem for passenger aircraft under normal operating conditions. However, multiple news agencies are reporting that a local radio station commented on bad weather at the time of the crash.

According to the airline’s web site, the flight that crashed was Flight 53, a Boeing 737, scheduled to take off from Abuja at 10:35 a.m. and land in Sokoto an hour later.

A local source said that the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Mohammadu Maccido, may have been on board. Senior government officials, senators, politicians and the son of one of Nigeria’s former presidents were on board.

A Sokoto State government spokesman Mustapha Sheu said that the northern state’s deputy governor, education commissioner and another senator were killed, along with the sultan and his son.

Sultan Muhammadu Maccido, revered as a leader of the Muslims in Nigeria and Niger, will be widely mourned. He will be remembered as the peace maker between sporadically warring Muslims and Christians in Nigeria.

The local hospital reports that seven survivors have been admitted. One is in a critical condition.

After visiting the crash site, Federal Territory Minister Mallam Nasir el-Rufai told the BBC that the condition of the plane was “deplorable”, with “bald tyres”.

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