150 People Feared Dead As Plane Crashes Into Building In Lagos

The wreckage of a plane burns in Nigeria's commercial capital Lagos, June 3, 2012. A plane that crashed into a downtown area of the Nigerian city Lagos on Sunday had 147 people on board, a source at the national emergency management agency said. The source said the aircraft belonged to privately owned domestic carrier Dana Air. Two sources at Lagos airport also said the number on board was around 150. REUTERS/Stringer

Lagos, Nigeria - A passenger plane carrying between 140 and 150 people crashed in Nigeria’s largest city on Sunday, officials said. Firefighters pulled at least one body from a building that was damaged by the crash and searched for survivors as several charred corpses could be seen in the rubble.

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Casualty figures were not yet known, said Lagos state emergency manager Femi Oke-Osanyinpolu.

An emergency official said that between 140 and 150 people were on the Dana Air flight Sunday. He said they were still trying to get an official manifest on the flight. Sometimes flights in Nigeria issue paper tickets and don’t record all passengers via computer.

Iyiola Akande, the zonal coordinator for NEMA, says that colleagues on the ground said that 153 people were on board but he did not say how they knew.

Praise Richard said he was watching a film when he heard a loud explosion that sounded like a bomb. He rushed outside and saw massive smoke and flames rising from the crash site.

He said the plane crashed about 3:45 p.m. local time.

“I don’t think there will be any survivors,” he said. “It would take a miracle.”

The Dana Air flight was flying from Abuja to Lagos, according to the head of Nigeria’s Civil Aviation Authority Harold Denuren.

The plane did not to appear to have nose-dived into the building, but seemed to have landed on its belly. It first crashed through a furniture shop and then into residential buildings next to the workshop in this densely packed neighborhood.

The nose of the plane was embedded into the three-story apartment building, damaging only one part of the structure. Fire still smoldered everywhere as a group of men stood atop the landing gear that was smoking and took pictures with their mobile phones.

At the crash site, an Associated Press reporter saw parts of the plane’s seat signs scattered around. Firefighters tried to put out the smoldering flames of a jet engine and carried at least one corpse from the building that continued to crumble. Several thousand people looked on.

Two firetrucks and about 50 rescue personnel were at the site about an hour after the plane went down. Some of those gathered around the site helped firefighters bring in the water hoses from their trucks.

The Nigerian Red Cross arrived, as well as Nigeria’s air crash safety investigators.

A military helicopter flew overhead. The sound of the crowd was also occasionally punctuated by the noise of aircraft still landing at the airport.

Lagos’ international airport is a major hub for West Africa and saw 2.3 million passengers pass through it in 2009, according to the most recent statistics provided by the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria.

In August 2010, the U.S. announced it had given Nigeria the FAA’s Category 1 status, its top safety rating that allows the nation’s domestic carriers to fly directly to the U.S.

The Nigerian government said it also now has full radar coverage of the entire nation. However, in a nation where the state-run electricity company is in tatters, state power and diesel generators sometimes both fail at airports, making radar screens go blank.

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