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153 people feared dead in Nigerian plane crash

Sunday Alamba / AP

Onlookers gather at the site of a plane crash Sunday in Lagos, Nigeria,

Updated at 5:19 p.m. ET: Nigerian authorities said Sunday that as many as 153 people were aboard a Dana Airlines passenger jet that crashed into a two-story building in Lagos, the country's largest city. "I don't believe there are any survivors," said Harold Denuren, Nigeria's director of aviation.


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Authorities said that in addition to the passengers and crew aboard the plane, an unknown number of people may also have been killed or hurt on the ground. President Goodluck Jonathan canceled all appointments for Monday and declared three days of official mourning for the victims.

The plane was heading from Abuja, the capital, to Lagos when it went down about 3:30 p.m. local time (10:30 a.m. ET), authorities said. It crashed into a building and broke into two before burning up, witnesses said.


Local reports indicated that at least three buildings were severely damaged, one of them a church. Nigerian Eye reported from the scene that bodies could be seen burning on the ground, while pictures on the Internet showed large plumes of smoke across the city.

Police said they had recovered the plane's voice recorder. Al Jazeera reported from Abuja that witnesses said the the plane may have hit a power line in clear and sunny weather.

Razak Fadipe, acting head of the Lagos fire service, told The Daily Times of Nigeria that no one had been rescued alive as of 7:30 p.m. (2:30 p.m. ET) but that people were likely to be trapped in the one of the buildings.

Poor road access and a crowd of hundreds of people were complicating rescue efforts, in some cases blocking fire crews from reaching the scene.

"Our job is crucial to the rescue efforts," Fadipe said. "Without us doing our job, other rescue teams cannot gain access to even rescue any survivors that may be trapped in the building."

The Daily Times quoted a senior official of Dana Airlines, whom it didn't identify, as saying the plane had been undergoing repairs for several weeks.

"The station manager protested its use, but the Indian management insisted it should fly," the official said, according to The Daily Times.

The crash came after 10 other people were killed when a Boeing 727 cargo plane flying from Lagos crashed Saturday in Accra, the capital of Ghana, and hit a bus, the Sunday Tribune of Nigeria reported.

The crew of four survived, authorities said.

A senior military officer told the Sunday Tribune that the bus was severely damaged, while the plane's wings and tail broke off from its body.

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