Posted by AFP on
Nigerian police have recovered the black box flight recorders of a passenger airliner which crashed just north of Lagos killing all 117 people on board, the senior officer at the scene said.
LISSA, Nigeria - Nigerian police have recovered the black box flight recorders of a passenger airliner which crashed just north of Lagos killing all 117 people on board, the senior officer at the scene said.
"The boxes were found this morning and handed over to the appropriate authorities," said Police Commissioner Tunji Alapini, whose men were the first to arrive after the plane disintegrated as it fell from the sky during a thunderstorm.
"There is nothing more to rescue. The destruction is total," he said late on Sunday as he left the crash site at Lissa village near Otta in a cocoa farming area north of Nigeria's commercial capital.
Already as night fell Sunday, 24 hours after the mystery disaster, the huge hole gouged out by the falling plane was enveloped in the foul stench of dozens of dismembered and rotting corpses.
Local villagers said that the Boeing 737 jet appeared to have exploded in mid-air as it fought its way northwards through a thunderstorm shortly after nightfall on Saturday.
Nigerian investigators had no early explanation for the disaster, but the flight data recorders should allow experts to begin piecing together the final minutes of the Bellview Airlines jet.
The director general of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, Fidelis Onyeriri, said in a televised press briefing that the plane was 24 years old and had had a full technical inspection, which is valid for 18 months of flying, in February 2005.
Ten hours before it took off on its final journey it had had an additional check, he added.
"The plane didn't come in radio contact when it should have reached 13,000 feet (3,900 meters), which is the normal procedure. So we were alerted, and as there couldn't be any radio contact the plane was declared presumed missing," he said.
"When we came to the wreckage site, the aircraft was completely broken into pieces. There could be no survivors," he added.
Nigeria has a checkered aviation safety record and has seen several crashes in recent years.
But Bellview -- a private Nigerian-owned airline mainly serving domestic and west African routes -- has never had a serious accident in 12 years and is widely considered one of the more reliable and professionally run firms to operate here. (AFP)