LAGOS- A plane crash in Nigeria’s commercial capital of Lagos is likely to have killed six people in the building that the airliner struck, bringing the toll from Nigeria’s worst airline disaster for two decades to 159, the Lagos state government said on Wednesday.
The privately owned Dana Air flight, a McDonnell Douglas MD-83, smashed into an apartment block in a densely populated Lagos suburb on Sunday afternoon, killing all 153 people onboard and an unknown number of people on the ground.
Workers have since recovered 149 bodies from the rubble, the state government emergency services told Reuters, but distinguishing the passengers from any other victims has proved difficult. Some are bodies burnt beyond recognition, and a number of dismembered body parts have also been found.
Only two bodies — those of a woman clutching her child — have been established to have been casualties on the ground.
Oke Osanyintolu, general manager of the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency, said authorities had done a survey of the building and the surrounding houses and found that all except six of the occupants were accounted for.
“Six people were missing among the occupants of the building … five were injured and taken to hospital,” he said, adding that this meant the death total might not exceed 159, though the final figure was not yet confirmed.
Nigeria’s government has suspended the air licence of Dana Air. The operator says there was nothing wrong with the plane before it crashed.
The cause remains a mystery. On Monday search teams found the “black box” voice and data recorder, which the Accident Investigations Bureau says has been sent abroad for decoding.
Nigeria’s historically poor air safety record had been improving, and Sunday’s was the first big crash for six years.
Most of the dead on board were Nigerians, although an American family of six, of Nigerian descent, were killed, as were four Chinese citizens, two Lebanese and a French woman.