Pattaya Daily News

31 October 2006 :: 17:10:00 pm 32138

Six people were reported found alive of Nigeria air crash

It was raining when the Nigerian jetliner started down the runway. A minute later, it was a tangle of smoldering wreckage, charred corpses and ripped luggage - the third airline crash in less than a year in this West African nation.
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When rescue crews got to the wooded site two miles away, still inside the Abuja airport grounds, they found the tail of the Boeing 737 hanging from a tree and wreckage scattered over an area the size of football field. Bulldozers had to gouge a path to the scene.

Six people were reported found alive, and workers searched through smoldering debris for the other 98 passengers and crew, all presumed dead.

At least 50 bodies were laid out in a field, wrapped in white plastic sheets, some with badly burned feet protruding.

President Olusegun Obasanjo ordered an immediate investigation into the cause of the crash, spokeswoman Remi Oyo said.

Sam Adurogboye, an Aviation Ministry spokesman, said 104 passengers and crew were aboard the doomed flight, and he knew of six survivors who had been taken to a hospital. “Obviously the rest are feared dead,” he said.

The plane was bound for the northwest city of Sokoto, about 500 miles northwest of Abuja, state radio said, adding that it had gone down during a storm. br>
Witnesses said there was a rainstorm around the time the aircraft took off, but rains later subsided, giving way to overcast skies.

Among those killed was the sultan of Sokoto, Muhammadu Maccido, the man regarded as the spiritual leader of Nigeria’s Muslims, and thousands of people met the body when it was flown to another airport.

According to the New York Times, the death of the sultan leaves Nigeria’s Muslim population without one of its most prominent voices against interreligious conflict as the country enters a contentious period leading up to elections next year.

Maccido played a crucial role in calming religious tensions in 2002, when deadly riots broke out over a beauty pageant in northern Nigeria, and in 2004, when interreligious violence killed dozens in Plateau state.

Maccido was buried yesterday in accordance with Islamic custom, and the Sokoto state government declared six days of mourning.

Mustapha Shehu, spokesman for the Sokoto state government, had said earlier that the sultan’s son, Muhammed Maccido, a senator, also was aboard the flight, along with Abdulrahman Shehu Shagari, son of former Nigerian President Shehu Shagari, who was in office between 1979 and 1983.

Their fates were not immediately known.

About half of Nigeria’s 130 million people are Muslims. The country is the most populous in Africa and the continent’s leading oil exporter.

The 23-year-old aircraft, a Boeing 737-2B7 owned by Aviation Development Co., a private Nigerian airline, was manufactured in 1983

Reporter : PDN staff   Photo : PDN staff   Category : World News

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