Rains hampered rescue effort at the devastated site of an air tragedy in Nigeria today as emergency workers looked for more bodies through the rubble, even as it emerged that two Indians were among the 153 people on the ill-fated flight that crashed following engine failure
Rescuers have recovered 137 bodies from the site of the crash, in which the toll is expected to mount to up to 200. Just before going down near the airport, the pilot of the flight had reported to the control tower that both of its engines had failed, according to Nigeria's civil aviation chief. Director of Nigeria's Civil Aviation Authority Harold Demureen said that there was confusion at the airport before it was learnt that the aircraft had crashed.
But Dana Airline, the owners of the aircraft with registration number 5N-RAM, said despite being 22-years-old the plane was still serviceable and operational.
A part of the flight that crashed in Nigeria's largest city of Lagos. Phot: AFP
A 26-year-old Indian engineer from Kerala named Rijo K Eldhose was also on the plane and the company for which he worked said they were making efforts to identify his body.
The High Commission of India in Lagos, Rani Malik, confirmed today that "one Indian passenger Rijo Kochukudiyil Eldohose lost his life" in the tragedy. Eldhose was on his way to Lagos from the Nigerian capital Abuja to attend a conference when the plane crashed.
Redington Nigeria Limited, the company with which Eldos was involved, said today they were yet to find his corpse among the bodies at the Ikeja General Hospital. "We were told all of us to come today by 2 pm," said Vadis Oommen, an official of the company.
Malik said the co-pilot of the plane, Mahendra Singh Rathore, is not a citizen of India but appears to be an American of Indian origin.
Heavy rains and strong winds hit Lagos this morning, and hampered the rescue operations at the site.
The emergency workers who continued to clear the debris and look for bodies till late last evening could not resume the rescue due to rains and flooding. The passenger plane which belongs to a company owned by Indians, Dana Air was on its way from Abuja to Lagos when it crashed.
The company's Director of Flight Operations, Captain Oscar Wilson, said that the aircraft was in good condition. Meanwhile, rescue workers at the scene of the crash at Iju Ishaga area of Lagos have recovered about 137 bodies from the rubble including a woman clutching a baby.
The woman and his baby are suspected to be occupants of the building where the aircraft plunged into. The General Manager of Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA), Femi Osanyintolu, said the bodies had been deposited at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital morgue.
Five injured persons were also rescued from the affected buildings and they were taken to the hospital for treatment, Osanyintolu told PTI. A resident who escaped unhurt with his family said the plane did not explode immediately.
"The aircraft did not go up in flames immediately it plunged into the building and it took up to 10 minutes before it exploded," said Sam Soyemi.