Wicked Dana Crash: ‘We Watched As Passengers Struggled To Come Out Of Burning Plane’

Wicked Dana Crash: ‘We Watched As Passengers Struggled To Come Out Of Burning Plane’


By Daniel Eteghe

The atmosphere was tense. Residents of Olaniye Street and  environs were busy trying to find a place to watch  a  match  involving the Nigerian national team in the suburb of Iju- Ishaga in Akande Community Development Area, CDA, of Lagos State when the Dana ill-fatal air crash occurred in the densely populated area,  killing 153 passengers on-board and 10 persons on ground.

The incident happened June 3, 2012.

Two years after, a  resident, Mr. Emmanuel Adekola, recounted that the air crash happened around  4:00pm when residents heard a loud noise which many mistook for an attack by Boko Haram.

Adekola explained that, immediately, people started rushing to the scene  to rescue the passengers on- board the plane and  occupants of the building into which  the aircraft crashed.

He narrated: “That day, I was at the other side of the street.  All of a sudden, we heard a loud noise. Some people were shouting that it could be Boko Haram attack. The next thing we noticed was that it was a plane crash. There was smoke everywhere.

The plane had not burned totally; it landed with the nose where the pilot was sitting. People started calling for emergency and we could see some victims in the plane struggling to come out but were trapped because of the smoke and fire.

It was then that the first respondents starting coming; they were now checking if they could see some people they could help. Unfortunately the passengers they had all died due to the heat of the fire because the plane exploded some minutes after it crashed.”

Another resident, Mr. Jimmy Bala, who lives at Akande Street, opposite Olaniye Street where the Dana  plane crashed, said the incident happened as the match involving Super Eagles was  about to kick off, noting that residents heard a bang as the  plane crashed  into the three-storey building.

Bala stated that one of the ground victims of the crash had  sent his son to his compound at No. 23 Akande to call an electrician to fix his television set so that he could watch the match, stressing that no sooner than his son and his two other children left the house that the plane crashed into the building, killing him, his wife and eight others.

He said: “You know it  happened on  a  Sunday, precisely around 4:00pm. Nigeria was to play a match that day. So, everybody was around. All of a sudden, we saw the plane hovering in the sky. Before  we knew it, we heard a loud noise only to find that it was a plane that came down. Everybody rushed there. There was nothing anybody could do. We saw the pilot and his passengers struggling to come out but nobody could rescue them.

People were confused on what to do, they were just running up and down. It was later that  emergency people came in”.
He pointed out that if help had come earlier, the passengers could have survived, stressing that it took about  20  minutes before the aircraft exploded and went into flames after crashing.

On  what has happened in the last two years since the crash occurred, Bala noted that the government had taken time out to develop the area through the construction of accessible roads to the crash site but pointed out that the development was one sided.

He said  residents of Akande Street were suffering from the effect of the construction of Olaniye Street and  environs as whenever it rains erosion from Ayinla junction, through Idowu-Williams and the neighbouring streets will come to Akande and, because there are no drainage systems, flood would be entering houses. Bala pleaded with government to construct  Akande Street road  so that residents could be saved from flood.

When contacted, the Chairman of the Akande Community Development Area, CDA, Mr. Adewale Oriowo, said government was responding to the plight of Akande Street residents  as he was sure that by the end of this month, construction work on Akande Street would have started.

Investigation into the cause of the crash
Since the Dana plane crash, the Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB), the agency responsible for investigating air crashes in the country, has released two interim reports on the incident.

The first preliminary report was released on  July 12, 2012, about six weeks after the mishap. The  report blamed the crash on the failure of the two engines of the aircraft.

According to the report, the Captain tried re-starting the two  engines mid-air. After several failed attempts “the Captain informed the Flight Officer FO, ‘ we just lost everything, we lost an engine. I lost both engines.”

The report added, “the airplane was on the fourth flight segment of the day consisting of two round trips between Lagos and Abuja. The accident occurred during the return leg of the second trip. Dana Air Flight 992 was on final approach to runway 18R at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos when the crew reported  total loss of power and the plane crashed landed”.

The second interim report, just  released on June 3, the agency said the  purpose of the investigation was to prevent aviation  accidents and incidents and not to apportion blame or liability.

On compensation
Many of the victims of the Dana  crash are yet to be fully compensated, especially the ground victims who have not  received a dine from the airline. The leader  of the ground victims, Pastor Fredrick Akhigbe, told Sunday Vanguard the victims had gone to court and a notice had been served on Dana airline to response within 42 days.

Akhigbe disclosed  that the ground victims were classified into categories, noting that those whose Certificates of Occupancy were revoked by Lagos State government were duly compensated but added that there are some victims yet to collect any compensation for the destruction of their properties.

His words: “We have gone to court. We  filed a  suit against Dana Air and they have given them 42 days to respond. There are  categories of victims, I cannot say much about those in the aircraft but I can comment on the ground victims. The ground victims are in categories. One, the premises where the crashed happened.

Two, are those whose houses were demolished on account of the crash and Lagos State government compensated them because they revoked their certificates of occupancy. Dana itself as a company has not compensated  the victims whose houses were destroyed.

For example, one Pastor Daniel has about six plots of land, he has houses and a factory, he has not been compensated; he has as well gone to court. There is another Mr. Adoroja who has a two-storey building. I was aware that Mr. Adoroja took some money from Dana, but apart from Adoroja, no other ground victim has been compensated in that area.”

“Other categories include landlords who houses were destroyed, whose roofing sheets were damaged, among other things. This category, nobody has been compensated, even N1:00 has not been given to them.

My church, my house were destroyed; that is the situation. The court has served them notice; they have given them 42 days to make their defence”.

Vanguard

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