At least 15 people were killed when a passenger plane went down shortly after taking off from an airport in Lagos, Nigeria.
Akintunde Akinleye / Reuters
Rescue workers stand near the tail of a crashed plane near the Lagos international airport on Thursday.
The death toll has climbed to 16 following a passenger plane crash near Nigeria's largest city Lagos, authorities said.
The Nigeria National Emergency Management Agency said that the aircraft crashed Thursday after taking off from the city's airport.
The Nigeria's Associated Airlines plane had been bound for the city of Akure, about 170 miles away.
There were four survivors, according to officials.
"The plane couldn't lift properly so it just came down," Aviation Ministry spokesman Joe Obi said.
Witness Henrie Eduozor told NBC News he was on his way to the airport in Lagos when he saw smoke rising from a nearby field. He said people ran toward the scene screaming “There’s been a crash!”
Eduozo saw three bodies being removed from the wreckage.
Airports Authority general manager Yakubu Dati told a news conference the Embraer 120 plane with 20 passengers on board, inclusive of crew, came down 9.32 a.m. local time (4:32 a.m. ET).
The plane's flight recorder has been found and officials have started investigating what caused the crash.
Several local radio stations and Channels TV reported that it was carrying a family and the body of former governor of Ondo state Olusegun Agagu to his funeral.
Air crashes are relatively common in Nigeria, which despite having Africa's second-biggest economy has a poor safety record.
Murtala Muhammed International Airport was the scene of a June 2012 crash that killed 163 people when a Dana Air plane crashed into a Lagos apartment block. It was the country's worst airline disaster in two decades.
Reuters contributed to this report.
Bystanders at the scene of a plane crash in Lagos on Thursday.
This story was originally published on Thu Oct 3, 2013 5:47 AM EDT