As Dana Air’s woes continue to mount over its plane that crashed on Sunday in Lagos, its senior managers of Indian nationality have reportedly fled the country as Nigerian aviation officials investigate the cause of the crash.
LEADERSHIP gathered that the managers hurriedly fled because of the anger the death of more than 200 people has generated and the alleged Dana Air’s complicity in the crash.
There are reports that the ill-fated plane was poorly maintained and in bad shape when it made its last flight.
When LEADERSHIP called the head, corporate communications, Dana Group, Mr. Tony Usidamen, he refused to pick his calls and also did not reply a text message sent to him.
Meanwhile, people living close to the place where Dana Air’s Boeing MD-83 plane crashed have raised the alarm over the stench emanating from the site at the Iju-Ishaga area of Lagos State.
The residents of the densely populated area lamented that apart from the wreckage that still liters their vicinity, the offensive odour oozing from the site of the crash calls for concern over the state of health of those inhaling the stench.
Olatunji Lawal, a resident of No. 4, Okusanya Street, a building very close to the crash site, told LEADERSHIP: “What we want government to do is to quickly come to our aid by evacuating us from this area. That is the only thing that can save our lives. “What has happened has happened. We ask God to grant the dead victims eternal rest. We pray that God will grant the families of the departed souls the fortitude to bear the loss. But we who are still alive need to survive. As it is now, the environment is not hygienic. As we speak now, the stench coming from the wreckage is odious. We even searched for an emergency clinic that NEMA said they have put in place nearby to get ourselves treated but couldn’t find it. As we are now, we need to subject ourselves to medical test.
“The structural integrity of this house (his place of residence) is suspect. So, this place is not habitable. When it rained this morning, the house was vibrating. I had to run out, praying to God that the house does not collapse on our heads.”
Another resident who gave his name as Pastor Adekunle Adedunni said: “What we need now is the help of people and government because we don’t know what to do. They have to compensate the owners of the houses close to the crash site after the people have been evacuated. The place is smelling now.”
The concern of another resident was that the people who live around the crash site coulld have psychological trauma if they were not relocated. He said the area should be used as a burial site for the victims of the air crash.
The Lagos State government has however allayed the fears of the residents , saying the government would fumigate the area as soon as the various investigations being carried out on the site of the crash are concluded and the debris cleared.
Speaking with LEADERSHIP, the chief executive officer of the Lagos Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA), Dr. Femi Oke-Osanyitolu, said efforts were being intensified to get the remaining bodies from the planes and houses affected by the crash, adding that the state government was too proactive to allow the issue of epidemic outbreak to occur.
He explained that recovered bodies were carefully packaged inside bags and taken away immediately to the Lagos Teaching Hospital in ambulances, promising that people displaced by the crash would be housed and rehabilitated at the Agbowa relief camp.
Oke-Osanyintolu further said that those displaced by the crash were 36 in number. He said they were being treated at a hospital in Ifako-Ijaye before being taken to the relief camp. The LASEMA boss assured that there would be no epidemic as the two-storey building which the plane crashed into would be pulled down and the entire area fumigated.
He confirmed that 149 complete bodies of the victims had been evacuated. He stated that the emergency workers would still comb for more body parts before pulling the building down same day.
The commissioner for environment, Mr. Tunji Bello, who also allayed fears of an epidemic outbreak, said all the concerned agencies in the state were already on standby to rise to the challenges of forestalling outbreak of any endemic.
The commissioner urged Lagosians to desist from listening to rumour mongers, saying that it is capable of causing more harm to the unsuspecting commuters.
He explained that the odour may have been caused by the continuous rainfall in the state, adding that people in the neighbourhood would be medically safe as soon as the affected environment was fumigated to treat and suppress the odour oozing from the place.
Mr. Rasheed Shabi of the Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency (LASEPA) similarly assured those living around the site of the crash not to panic, adding that LASEPA would fumigate the place.
More bodies recovered
The FRSC said in Abuja that 14 more bodies were recovered on Tuesday from the wreckage of the Dana plane that crashed in Lagos on Sunday.
Mr. Jonas Agwu, the public education officer of the FRSC, who gave the figure at noon, in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), said the recovery “brings the number of bodies so far recovered to 152”.
Agwu said the 14 bodies were recovered during “a joint sustained evacuation exercise’’ carried out by the National Emergency Management Agency and other relevant agencies.
He gave the breakdown of the bodies so far recovered to include 88 males, 48 females, 14 children, and two unidentified mutilated adults.
The plane, which took off from Abuja, crashed into a residential area in Iju, a suburb of Lagos, killing all 153 passengers and six crew members on board.
Agwu recalled that during a similar operation on Monday, more than 130 bodies were recovered from the wreckage.
FG suspends airline’s licence
The Ministry of Aviation yesterday suspended the Air Operator Certificate (AOC) of Dana Air, following the crash of one of its MD83 aircraft in Lagos on Sunday.
Consequently, the airline could no longer conduct flight operations, though the airline had grounded its operations following the crash since it operates MD83 aircraft only.
The minster of aviation’s special assistant (media), Mr. Joe Obi, confirmed the “indefinite” suspension pending when investigation would be concluded.
He said, “We have suspended their operational licence in the aftermath of the crash. We have to look at their entire operations”.
LEADERSHIP investigations showed that all five Dana aircraft operating in the Nigerian airspace were built between 21 and 22 years ago, thereby breaking government’s rule which bans aircraft older than 20 years from operating within the Nigerian airspace.
It was also gathered that NCAA yesterday launched a comprehensive safety and financial audit of all local airlines operating in Nigeria, so as to determine whether they ought to be in business or not.
A source at the regulator said any carrier found to have compromised on global safety standards would have its licence revoked.
US condoles with Nigeria
United States president Barack Obama has condoled with the federal government of Nigeria over Sunday’s plane crash that claimed over 100 lives.
Speaking through the secretary of state, Mrs. Hillary Rodham Clinton, on Monday night, the US president said he extended his deepest condolences to those who lost family members and loved ones in the deadly plane crash in Lagos, Nigeria.
“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,” President Obama was quoted as saying.
Also, the spokesperson of the White House, Mr. Mark Toner, during a briefing with journalists during in Washington, condoled with Nigerians, adding that it had been confirmed that there were some U.S. citizens on board the ill-fated flight that crashed in Lagos on Sunday.
“We’re still, frankly, unable to provide a firm number. Once we’re able to, we’ll get that to you all. I can also say that our consulate in Lagos is working both to notify the next of kin and also provide any appropriate consular assistance,” he added.