A passenger plane has crashed into a two-story building in a densely-populated neighborhood of Lagos, Nigeria. The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority has confirmed there are no survivors. Around 40 people are feared to be trapped under the rubble.
Thick clouds of black smoke can be seen at the site of the crash. Emergency services have been dispatched to the location. The head of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority said the Dana Air Boeing MD83 was heading to Lagos from the capital Abuja.
Local residents have reportedly witnessed bodies burning at the crash site. Officials of the Lagos Fire Service and other rescue workers are evacuating residents of nearby houses.
Lagos' international airport is a major hub for West Africa and saw 2.3 million passengers pass through it in 2009, according to the most recent statistics provided by the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria.
In August 2010, the US announced it had given Nigeria the FAA's Category 1 status, its top safety rating that allows the nation's domestic carriers to fly directly to the States. But Nigeria, like many African countries, has a poor air safety record, though some efforts have been made to improve it following a number of airline disasters in 2005.
Following the tragedy, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan has declared three days of national mourning.
Dana Air has run commercial flights since 2008. On its website, the company says its fleet consists of Boeing MD83 aircraft.
The catastrophe immediately triggered chaos at the crash site, as rescue workers faced heavy crowds and aggressive soldiers while trying to access the wreckage, AFP reports. Thousands of people had partially blocked access to the site, prompting soldiers to use rubber whips and their fists in order to clear the area. The heavy-handed tactics caused people to take off in different directions, trampling their neighbors in doing so.
Some locals attempted to pull a fire-hose from a truck parked on the road near the crash area, but their efforts were also interrupted by the security forces, whose aggression disrupted the human chain. Eventually, some people reacted by stoning the troops, creating a crossfire of rocks.
The area was also plunged into chaos when a helicopter tried to land among the crowd. The chopper kicked up thick clouds of ash and debris that again scattered people in various directions.
Only a handful of rescue vehicles reportedly managed to make their way through the chaos to reach the crash site.
The Nigerian crash happened on the same day as another air disaster, when a cargo Boeing 727 of Allied Air crashed through an airport's perimeter fence in Ghana and slammed into a bus on a nearby street, killing 10 people inside. The plane’s crew of four – all Nigerian nationals – survived. The plane was coming from Lagos and crashed at Ghana international airport after a failed landing attempt.