Monday, October 30, 2006

NIGERIAN CRASH AIRLINE GROUNDED !

The plane reportedly burst into flames just after take-off.

Crash aftermath

Nigeria has suspended the licence of the airline involved in Sunday's crash, in which 96 people were killed. ADC's Boeing 737 passenger jet came down almost immediately after take-off from the capital, Abuja, on a flight to the northern city of Sokoto. Among the dead was the spiritual leader of Nigeria's Muslims, the Sultan of Sokoto. Nine people are reported to have survived the crash.
This is Nigeria's third major civilian air disaster in less than a year. ADC is one of Nigeria's most popular private airlines. Three days of national mourning have been announced for the victims and an inquiry has begun.
President Olusegun Obasanjo on Monday visited Sokoto to pay his respects at the sultan's palace. "I have come with so much sadness and sorrow to condole the people and government of Sokoto and all Nigerians over this tragedy" he said. "The sultan was a man of peace who lived and died for peace.

Most shops and businesses are closed in Sokoto and the city's motorbike-taxi riders have parked their bikes out of respect for the deceased sultan. Residents are gathering at mosques and the sultan's palace to pray. The BBC's Alex Last in Nigeria says there is a lot of anger over the latest crash, as well as grief. "Nigeria's aviation industry needs urgent overhaul. This is one crash too many," said Ishaq Akintola, director of civil society group Muslim Rights Concern.
Nigeria's aviation minister has said the pilot ignored advice to wait for better weather before taking off.

"The pilot of the unfortunate accident refused to take advantage of the weather advice and the opinion of the [control] tower to exercise patience and allow the weather to clear for a safe take off," Aviation Minister Babalola Borishade said at a news conference. The jet came down just after take-off, ploughing into a cornfield about two kilometres from Abuja airport. Our correspondent says the plane broke up on impact, scattering debris and passengers' belongings across an area the size of a football pitch.

The body of the Sultan of Sokoto, Mohammadu Maccido - the spiritual leader of the country's estimated 70 million Muslims - was buried in Sokoto within hours of the crash. Several other leading Nigerian politicians, including one of the sultan's sons, were also killed in the crash. The survivors are being treated in a hospital in Abuja.
Corruption and corner-cutting
After visiting the crash site, Federal Territory Minister Mallam Nasir el-Rufai told the BBC that the condition of the plane was "deplorable", with "bald tyres".

Crash site eyewitness
In pictures: Nigeria crash

The government had already announced a plan to overhaul the aviation industry and improve safety following last year's disasters, in which more than 200 people died.
Last month 10 senior army commanders were killed when their military plane crashed.
Several airlines were grounded while safety checks were carried out. ADC planes were not involved in the crashes.
President Obasanjo blamed corruption and corner-cutting for poor safety standards.
Our correspondent says that air travel in Nigeria has boomed in recent years, but this crash will raise further questions as to how these safety reforms are being implemented.

BBC NEWS REPORT.

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