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Plane crash in Kaduna, British pilot and Nigerian engineer killed

A Beechcraft B350 aircraft

On 24 May, a 10-seater aircraft crashed on a farm at Barakallahu, a few kilometers north of Kaduna city, capital of Kaduna State, killing its two occupants.

The aircraft, a twin-engine turboprop Beechcraft 350, with registration number N364 UZ, was owned by Shoreline International Company. It was said to be on a test run, after undergoing maintenance at Dornier Aviation Nigeria Limited (DANA), before it suddenly crashed few minutes after taking off from the maintenance company’s premises. The two casualties were the pilot, a British national, and the engineer, a Nigerian.

DANA’s Public Relations Officer, Mr Bashir Chedi, told newsmen that he was not competent to speak at length about the crash. But he confirmed that the plane had been brought to Kaduna for maintenance service with his company, and crashed during a test run.

Mohammed Musa, owner of the farm on which the plane crashed, narrated the accident to newsmen. He said:  “I was working on the farm with my son, when heard the noisy sound of a plane very low and then I saw it descending to the ground. Then it crashed with a bang”

“I ran to the plane, to see if I could rescue the occupants. I tried to break open the glass of the door with my hoe. But it was a futile effort. The hoe bounced back as if I was hitting a wall. A soldier, who was on patrol, also ran to the scene. He smashed the butt of his gun on the door, but it was also a futile effort. We both tried more desparately, but we could not break the door. As we did that, we could see through the glass windows that there were two people inside.  We kept on trying, but without success.

“Then we noticed that smoke was coming from the plane. We could see the two people in the plane waving frantically, as the smoke got worse. But the soldier said that we had to leave, that the plane would soon explode. So we ran back”

“From where we stood, we could see them waving more frantically. Then the plane burst into flames.  It burnt for over an hour.  They were long dead before you people (the firemen and journalists) came.  If enough help had reached here in time, say 30 minutes, these people would have survived”.

Even after Fire Service personnel arrived in two fire-fighting vehicles about 30 minutes after the crash, the rescue operation was further delayed by technical problems. For reasons unknown, one of the two fire-fighting vehicles was not put to use in fighting the fire. The second had sprayed the burning plane with water for only a few seconds before its pumps apparently failed. It took about five minuties to get the pumps working again.

The huge crowd of onlookers, enraged at what they saw as the inefficiency of the fire service, attempted to attack the fire men, but was restrained by the Police. By the time the fire was put out completely some 15 minutes, all that was left was to bring out the burnt bodies of the unfortunate men. The bodies were later taken to the Nigerian Air Force Hospital in Kaduna.

The Director General of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Mohammed Sani Sidi, who rushed to the accident scene, expressed sadness over the crash and prayed for the repose of the souls of the casualties. Aviation authorities said they would commence investigation of the crash would commence immediately.

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Fire at Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos

Murtala Mohamed International Airport, Lagos (Airside view)

On 18 March, a fire incident occurred in parts of the fourth and fifth floors of the terminal building at Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos.

Local sources reported that thick smoke was noticed on the two floors about mid-day, with flames bursting out shortly after. The fire prompted a stampede of passengers and airport staff fleeing the building. However, firemen from the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) and security agencies speedily arrived and put out the fire after a few minutes.

There were no casualties or injuries. While the incident briefly disrupted the activities of some airline staff in offices and check-in counters in the building, it did not lead to any flight cancellations.

The cause of the fire is not yet known, but the General Manager, Public Affairs of the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), Mr. Supo Atobatele, said it might have been caused by an electrical spark from the distribution box in the equipment room of the control tower.

Fire at Kano Airport: One killed, four injured, flights delayed

Aminu Kano International Airport, Kano

On 14 March, a wild fire at the airside of the Aminu Kano International Airport, Kano, engulfed a fire-fighting truck, killing one fire-fighter while four other persons, all staff of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) sustained serious injuries.

There has been no official statement on the cause of the inferno, but according to local reports, the fire was lit by unknown persons outside the airport‘s perimeter fence early in the day. It later became uncontrollable, as strong winds blew strands over the fence and ignited the bush near the airport.

The firemen had succeeded in putting out the blaze at one portion of the bush inside the airport and were trying to relocate their ladder when flames from the other side caught their truck. Two of them managed to flee but their colleague could not go far before he was burnt to death.

Planes that were coming in to land at the airport were delayed for close to 45 minutes, but were later able to land, after the fire was brought under control at about 3pm. The terminal building was not affected by the fire.

The incident raised concern among airport officials, particularly as it occurred just two days ahead of a visit to the state by President Goodluck Jonathan, scheduled for 16 March.

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