The government of the United States of America has offered to assist Nigeria in the investigation of the Dana Airlines plane crash that killed about 163 people in the Iju-Ishaga area of Lagos State.
According to local news agency, Premium Times, the US extended its condolences to affected families in a statement made available to the News Agency of Nigeria in New York US noting it to be one of the worst air disasters in West Africa.
The statement signed by US Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton said “We stand with the people of Nigeria at this difficult time and we are prepared to assist the Nigerian Government in its investigation of this tragic accident.”
State Department spokesman, Mark Toner, said earlier that some U.S. citizens were among the 153 passengers aboard the plane that crashed into the densely populated Iju Ishaga area, reports earlier on Tuesday said that a Houston family and two sisters who are Americans were involved in the crash.
According to a report by AP, a family of six from West Hartford, Connecticut were victims of the Dana Plane crash. The Tuesday edition of the Hartford Courant newspaper identified the family as Maimuna Anyene, her Nigerian husband Onyeke, and their children, a 5 month old, 1-year-old twins and a 3 year old.
The AP report also cites the Houston Chronicle who reported Tuesday that the crash also killed Josephine and Jennifer Onita, sisters from Missouri City, Texas.
President Goodluck Jonathan on Sunday declared three days of national mourning for the victims of the crash, while the Lagos state government cancelled all official engagements for one week of mourning.
The ill fated Dana Airline crash which killed about 163 people on Sunday in the Iju-Ishaga area of Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial hub was reportedly faulty and was meant to be grounded, an official of the airline revealed on Monday.
According to local reports, an official of Dana Air who begged anonymity confirmed that Dana Air flight 0992, MC Donnell Douglas (MD 83) was faulty shortly after it left Lagos and stopped over in Calabar.
The official alleged that the owners of the airline whom are Indians refused to heed to caution but insisted the aircraft must fly when it was supposed to be sent to Lagos for repairs.
According to her, “the plane has been giving faults for a very long time. There was a case when it was on ground in Uyo for over six hours, because of delayed flight, it had a bolt. And then in Abuja it happened a few days ago, then some people went with the aircraft but they could not come back, because it had a fault there and it couldnt leave Abuja.”
“The same engineers that fixed it and then they sent crew to bring it with passengers to Lagos.”
While still buttressing the fact that the Flight that crashed on Sunday wasn’t meant to leave Lagos, the official said “yesterday, it (Dana Air flight 0992) was not supposed to leave Lagos at all, but it left and then got to Calabar, gave fault and it was fixed and then they took it to Abuja, when they should have returned to Lagos but because they didn’t want to part with the little money they will make, they took it to Abuja, loaded full passengers, and then it couldnt get to Lagos. ”
“It has been having faults over time, continously, hydralics or one thing or the other. That airfcraft kept having problems and they were not ready to park it” she alleged, adding that the management of the airline does not return airfcrafts with faults back to the station, as it should have, but “they make it complete its normal route to where ever it is supposed to go before they bring it back to Lagos” she said.
Meanwhile, the Special Adviser, Technical to Minister of Aviation, Mr. Victor Oche Elias revealed that the pilot of the ill-fated plane, had alerted the aviation authority of the airport, on the emergency situation 11 nautical miles to landing.
It was further disclosed that the pilot’s May-Day cry was given priority, but the plane could not make it, as it crashed 4 nautical miles to landing.
The 22 year old aircraft, MC Donnell Douglas MD 83 was sold to Dana Airline in 2009 by a US-based Alaska Airlines, ahead of the airline commencing its services in Nigeria.
On 11 May, a Dana Air plane developed a technical problem and was forced to make an emergency landing in Lagos.
Nigeria has had a poor air safety record, Seven major air crashes since 1992, though some efforts have been made to improve it since a spate of airline disasters in 2005.
The Federal government had done a lot to revamped the aviation sector in 2007, making all airlines to re-capitalise or be grounded, in an effort to ensure better safety and improve customer confidence in the sector.
In August 2010, the US gave Nigeria its top safety rating, allowing its domestic carriers to fly directly to America.