All 117 feared dead in Nigeria plane crash
Updated: 2005-10-24 06:15
A police spokesman later reported that search teams located the crashed craft
far inland, near Kishi, 120 miles north of Lagos. But Red Cross officials later
said the wreck was found in a wooded area near Lissa, a small town 30 miles
north of Lagos.
A local TV station, Africa Independent Television, broadcast video of
villagers looking over charred wreckage of a white Boeing 737 in an uninhabited
wooded area near Lissa.
The aircraft was in several pieces, and the sky-blue streaked logo of
Bellview Airlines could be seen on the shattered tail. No rescue workers were
visible in the footage.
There was no immediate indication of what caused the crash, but it was not
thought to be terrorist-related.
"The weather was not too bad but there was lightning, and an airplane struck
by lightning could lose total control," said Onyenyiri, the civil aviation
He said investigators were searching for the plane's flight data recorders.
Initial reports indicated the plane lost contact with the Lagos control tower
five minutes after taking off from Murtala Muhammed international airport at
8:45 p.m. Saturday, said Jide Ibinola, a spokesman for the Federal Airport
Authority of Nigeria.
The plane was headed to the capital, Abuja, on what was supposed to have been
a 50-minute flight from Lagos, the country's business and financial center.
The route is frequented by Nigerian officials and foreign executives and
diplomats, and as news of the crash got out, representatives of many countries
gathered at the Lagos airport to check whether any of their citizens were on
Most on the plane were believed to be Nigerians. State Department spokesman
Edgar Vasquez said one American was aboard, but declined to release the victim's
name because of privacy concerns.
Bellview, a privately owned Nigerian company that operates a fleet of mostly
Boeing 737s on routes throughout West Africa and to London, first began flying
about 10 years ago and had not had a crash before. Many consider it to be among
the most reliable of Nigeria's airlines.
The crash was Nigeria's worst air disaster since May 2002, when an EAS
Airlines jet — another domestic carrier — plowed into a heavily populated
neighborhood in the northern city of Kano just after takeoff, killing 154 people
in the plane and on the ground.
Soon after the latest crash, Nigeria's president suffered another blow when
his wife, Stella, died in Spain. She would have been 60 next month.
In a one-sentence statement signed by the presidential spokeswoman, Remi Oyo,
described her as Obasanjo's "beloved wife." No further details were given as to
what caused her death.
The Spanish Foreign Ministry said she died Sunday morning at a hospital in
the southern resort city of Marbella, where she was on a private visit. It had
no information on the cause of death and did not know if she had undergone
surgery, as asserted by Nigerian officials in Abuja.
The body was taken to a coroner's office in nearby Malaga for an autopsy, the