Casualty figure in Nigerian plane crash increases to 107... Pastor Bimbo Odukoya among the dead

  • Sunday, December 11, 2005 - Reuters
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Abuja - The number of people killed in Saturday's plane crash in Port Harcourt in Nigeria's Niger river delta increased to 107 as four of the seven survivors died Sunday.

Out of the 110 passengers and crew members on board the plane, only three still remained alive Sunday.

The plane left Abuja on Saturday at 1308 GMT and crashed at the end of the one-hour flight to Port Harcourt, just as it was landing. Among the passengers were 75 students from the high-brow Loyola Jesuit College in Abuja who were going home for the year-end holidays.

One of the victims was a popular tele-evangelist, Bimbo Odukoya, pastor of the Fountain of Life Church.

The Port Harcourt airport has since been closed to traffic to facilitate the evacuation of charred bodies.

Unofficial reports said rescue operations were hampered at the airport on Saturday as there was no water in the airport's hydrants for the fire-fighters, who also did not have enough water in their fire engines.

Saturday's incident was the seventh aviation mishap in Nigeria since the beginning of the year.

This year alone, Lufthansa Airlines, Air France and British Airways shunned Lagos's Murtala Muhammed airport which they declared dangerous because its only functional runway was weak, pot-hole ridden and held stagnant water during rains.

It was during this period that the airlines diverted to Abuja and Port Harcourt where an Air France A-330 Airbus ran into a herd of cattle on the runway.

The Lagos runway was repaired in November.

President Olusegun Obasanjo said in Abuja Sunday that if the need arose, he would not hesitate to hand over Nigeria's aviation industry to expatriates to manage as Saturday's plane crash was one crash too many.

Obasanjo cancelled a two-day official visit to Portugal Sunday in the wake of the plane crash.

Africa's aviation sector is arguably the most accident-prone in the world as they generally lack modern facilities. 

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