Search Site: OnlineNigeria

Close



Long wait for victims’ bodies

Posted by Rotimi Williams and Sunday Aborisade on 2005/10/30 | Views: 1896 |

Popular Menu

Long wait for victims’ bodies


UNCERTAINTY on Saturday pervaded the recovery of the Bellview aircraft that has remained buried in the soil after it crashed in Lisa, Ogun State last Saturday with 117 on board.

UNCERTAINTY on Saturday pervaded the recovery of the Bellview aircraft that has remained buried in the soil after it crashed in Lisa, Ogun State last Saturday with 117 on board.

Sunday Punch learnt that American experts flown into the country to assist in recovering the Boeing 737 plane are insisting on clear terms of agreement before they could commence work aimed at retrieving the fuselage of the plane from the soil.

It was gathered on Saturday that the Federal Government has in principle acquesced to the request by directing officials of the appropriate government agencies to open discussions with the Americans on their demand.

The Bellview flight from Lagos enroute Abuja last Saturday crashed, killing all the people on board, including the crew members.

The four-man American team, led by Dennis Jones of the US National Transportation Bureau, visited the site on Friday, scanned the area and picked pieces of scattered parts of the wreckage preparatory to the excavation of the plane, which is still largely embedded in the ground.

A senior official of the National Emergency management Authority (NEMA), who craved anonymity, told Sunday Punch at the site of the crash on Saturday that the excavation would not start until after the team would have concluded their terms of payment with the Federal Government.

According to the NEMA official, the investigators would meet with the Federal Government on Saturday to conclude how much they would be paid and when the payment would be effected before moving to the site with necessary equipments.

He also said that the investigators had demanded that they would not entertain any form of interference or distraction in the course of their investigation, hence, government should put measures in place to bar people from watching them during the excavation, for security purposes.

He said the team would seize the opportunity of the meeting to brief the Federal Government about their preliminary observations during their visit to the site on Friday.

In granting their request therefore, Sunday Punch learnt that the Federal Government had awarded contract for the concrete fencing of the crash site and ordered security operatives to prevent people from entering the place once the investigators move to site.

We, however, learnt from a source at NEMA that the contractor had pleaded with the authorities to commence construction of the fence on Tuesday to enable him ample time to move men and materials to the site.

The source explained that since the investigators would not begin work on the site until after the fencing, excavation of the crashed plane which digs in deeper by the day, may not be carried out until Thursday.

The Divisional Police Officer of Ajuwon Police Station, Mr. David Ogar, explained to Sunday Punch that the Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Sunday Ehindero, instructed them to bar members of the public from gaining access to the location

The Director, Accident and Investigation Bureau of the Federal Ministry of Aviation, Mr. Angus Ozoka, who conducted the team round the site of the crash on Friday, had told newsmen after the exercise that the experts carried out extensive assessment and inspection of the site.

He had said they would go back to the office to analyse their observations and map out necessary strategies.

The director also said that it was after the initial assessment that the team would plan the second phase of the investigation, using items recovered from the wreckage.

Ozoka said he could not be specific about when the fuselage would be excavated, but promised to brief newsmen periodically about the progress of the investigation.

He said, “As at now, we are going back to the office to discuss what we have found on the site. We are here today to assess and analyse the situation.

“I cannot say specifically when the excavation will commence. We have to perfect our strategies and analyse our findings,” he had added.

A team of experienced pathologists, Sunday Punch learnt, has been put together to co-ordinate and carry out the medical tests on the parts.

According to our investigations, the move is to assist the ongoing investigations into the crash.

Two of the hospitals that will carry out the tests are situated in Lagos, while the other one is in Ogun State.

The government has already directed all its officials at the site who are part of the search and rescue team, to ensure that every human part retrieved at the site was immediately transferred to the designated hospitals.

It was learnt that the few pieces of human parts recovered by the team on Saturday after a comprehensive search, had already been moved away from the site to one of the hospitals, as at 3.30 pm when Sunday Punch visited Lisa village.

The forensic tests, according to sources, apart from assisting the goverment in its determination to get to the root of the crash, was also aimed at identifying some of the victims.

However, about 72 military officers, mostly naval personnel, currently providing security cover at the site, are already complaining of hunger and lack of drinking water.

As at 3.30 pm, on Saturday, when Sunday Punch visited the site, they had nothing to eat or drink while they were anxiously waiting for their rations, from their headquarters.

It was gathered that the last rations that got to the officers were brought to the site on Friday evening with no hope of when the next would come.

Coupled with the non-provision of food and water, Sunday Punch gathered that the officers often battle with poisonous snakes that have turned the site to their second home.

The officers have no place to sleep at night as they now make do with sleeping on the grass thereby making them vulnerable to snake bites.

It was gathered that no fewer than six of such snakes were killed between Friday evening and Saturday morning.

Meanwhile, members of the Red Cross had been constantly fumigating the crashed site to reduce the terrible stench oozing out with the smoke that is coming out of the crater where the plane is buried.

Sunday PUNCH, October 30, 2005

Read Full Story Here.... :
Leave Comment Here :



Add Comment

* Required information
1000
Captcha Image

Comments (0)

No comments yet. Be the first!