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Dana Air Flight 992 crashed on a clear and sunny day into a busy neighborhood in Lagos as it approached the runway on June 3, 2012, killing all 153 people on board – 146 passengers and 7 crew members – and at least ten on the street. The plane was a 22-year-old McDonnel Douglas MD-83 purchased by the Indian company Dana Air from Alaska Airlines.
Workers have stopped searching through the rubble for all of the bodies as of 6 June 2012 and are attempting to clean up the destruction. Three days of national mourning have been declared in Nigeria and Dana Air halted all flights on Monday out of respect for the victims and their families. Dana Air has also created a 24 hour hotline for the relatives of the victim to contact for information. Shortly after the crash a torrential downpour and strong winds prevented emergency crews from returning to the crash site.
The exact cause of the crash is unknown. Just before the crash the pilot sent out an emergency signal as he neared the Lagos airport runway. The black box was recovered from the crash site which Nigerian officials hope will provide the answer. What is known is that both engines on the plane failed even though the maintenance was up-to-date.
The Lagos Airport is one of the major flight hubs for West Africa with at least 2.3 million people passing through in 2009 alone. However, this flight came the day after another flight from the Lagos, Nigeria airport crashed in Accra, Ghana, killing ten people. Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan said as he toured the site on June 4, 2012, “we have been working very hard to improve the aviation conditions in this country, so this particular incident is a major setback for us as a people.”
Since August 2010 Nigeria has had a Category 1 status – the top rating – for the US’s FAA, meaning that direct flights between the US and Nigeria are possible. However, this is the fourth crash that has killed more than one hundred people in the last decade in Nigeria.
Victims of the flight include an American family of six from West Hartford Connecticut, and two sisters from Missouri City, Texas. The pilot was also from the US while the co-pilot was from India. Countries around the world have also announced the death of their citizens in the terrible accident, including at least six Chinese nationals, one French national, and two Lebanese.
Nigerian aviation authorities have suspended Dana Air’s operating license as of June 5, 2012.