On 29 July, a helicopter crashed killing three people, near Ife-Odan in Osun State. The three casualties were the male pilot and two women.
The aircraft, rented from OAS Helicopter Services Nigeria, a leading private charter services provider, was flying from Lagos to Ilorin, Kwara State. Yushau Shuaib, spokesman for the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), said it crashed in a very hilly area, “on a hilltop more than 1,000 feet above sea level”. The cause of the crash is not yet known, but NEMA officials say they suspect poor visibility could have been a factor.
It took till early the next morning before rescue workers were able to reach the wreakage. The workers said their efforts were impeded by the difficulty of the terrain, as the crash site was inaccessible to emergency response vans or even motorcycles.
Shuaib said the search was further slowed by the fact that a device, the emergency locator beacon, which could have sent a distress signal to NEMA’s Mission Control Centre (MCC) had not been activated when the helicopter crashed. This is the second incident in which the device was not activated – in the first incident on 24 May, a Beechcraft crashed in Kaduna killing its two crew members.
Shuaib said NEMA’s Director General, Mr Mohammed Sani-Sidi, will be convening a meeting of all airline and aircraft operators to discuss the use of the device, next week.
[Please see also our follow-up report titled: Top businesswoman Josephine Kuteyi dies in helicopter crash, also on this website].