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Search for bodies ends at crash site

07 June 2012, 08:50

Lagos - Rescuers have ended search operations at the site of a plane crash that killed at least 159 people in Lagos to concentrate on clearing debris, an official said Wednesday.

While formal searches have ended, workers will remain on the lookout for human remains while clearing debris from the site on the northern outskirts of Lagos. A total of 153 bodies have so far been recovered.

Members of a rescue team gathering personal belongings from victims of a Dana Air plane crash, which occurred on June 4th, at the site of the crash in the densely populated Toyin Area of Iju Ishaga in Lagos. Nigerian aviation authorities have suspended Dana Air's licence after a flight operated by the commercial passenger carrier crashed in Lagos, killing at least 159 people, a spokesman said on June 5. AFP PHOTO

“We’re not doing full searching operations,” said Yushau Shuaib, spokesman for the National Emergency Management Agency. “What we are doing now is we are trying to clear the place and fumigate the area.”

All 153 people on board the Dana Air MD83 died when it crashed into a neighbourhood near the airport in Lagos on Sunday afternoon, while at least six people on the ground were killed.

The 22-year-old plane plowed into a two-storey apartment block, a church, a house and a textbook warehouse. The ruins of the apartment block were torn down on Tuesday.

“The search and rescue operation has ended with the demolition of the affected building. We are now moving the next phase which is disaster victim identification,” National Emergency Management Agency official Ibrahim Farinloye told AFP.

Farinloye said DNA tests would be conducted to enable relatives to claim the the remains of their relatives.

Nigerian aviation authorities on Tuesday grounded Dana Air’s flights pending investigation into the crash, and on Wednesday President Goodluck Jonathan again pledged to follow through with a thorough investigation.

“Let me warn that where clear dereliction of duty is established, firm action will be taken,” Jonathan told a special session of his cabinet on the crash, with ministers dressed in black.

“This administration stands ready to take whatever action that becomes necessary after the investigation to prevent a recurrence of disaster.”

Local media said the crash was Nigeria’s worst since 1992, when a military C-130 went down after takeoff in Lagos, killing around 200 people on board.

The plane’s two engines were reported to have failed before it crashed, the country’s civil aviation chief has said.

On Wednesday, a member of Dana’s board of directors told reporters that the plane had been given an extensive inspection, or c-check, in September and was not due for another in “four or five months.”

“I’m almost certain they’ll find we didn’t do anything that contravenes the aviation rules,” said Francis Ogboro.

He said he was confident Dana would be flying again relatively soon, but added that it remained too early to tell specifically what caused the crash.



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