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Last Updated: Sunday, 11 December 2005, 06:47 GMT
Nigeria jet crash leaves 103 dead
Some 75 schoolchildren are feared to be among 103 people thought to have died on a plane that crashed in Nigeria.

Seven survivors are said to have escaped the burning wreckage of the plane, which crashed at Port Harcourt.

The plane was bringing passengers from the capital Abuja on Saturday when it overshot the runway during an electrical storm and burst into flames.

"I saw the plane break into three and then fire engulfed it and it started burning," an airport worker said.

Workers described charred bodies and pieces of the wrecked plane strewn around the disaster site.

Lightning

The DC-9, owned by the private Sosoliso Airlines, was carrying 75 school children, aged 12-16, home for the Christmas holidays, staff at the Loyola Jesuit school in Abuja said.

The cause of the crash is not known, but civil aviation spokesman Samuel Adurogboye said the aircraft "ran into bad weather".

Witnesses described flashes of lightning as the plane came into land.

NIGERIA PLANE CRASHES
October 2005: Bellview Airlines plane crashes near the village of Lissa, Ogun state, killing 117 people
May 2002: Plane operated by EAS Airlines crashes in Kano, killing 148 people - half of them on the ground
November 1996: 142 people die when Boeing 727 owned by Nigeria's ADC airline plunges into lagoon 85km (55 miles) from Lagos
September 1992: 158 people are killed when military transport plane goes down near Lagos

"Almost everyone was killed. There was a lot of flames," an airport official said.

"There were many students onboard, returning for the holidays."

Mr Adurogboye said seven people were rescued.

"They were breathing and were taken to hospital. They are responding to treatment," he said.

He did not say if they were passengers or crew members.

Safety concerns

A Boeing 737 aircraft crashed in October shortly after take-off from the commercial capital Lagos, killing all 117 people on board.

The flight recorders from that plane were never found.

President Olusegun Obasanjo had instructed his aviation minister to plug any loopholes to ensure airline safety.

After the latest disaster, Femi Fani-Kayode, a spokesman for Mr Obasanjo, said: "It is a national tragedy for us. We need to take all the necessary measures to make sure this sort of thing stops happening."

Asked whether this raised questions about air safety in Nigeria, he said: "Of course, people would be concerned, in view of the circumstances."

Correspondents say Nigeria's aviation industry has grown rapidly in recent years, but many aircraft are elderly and there have been several fatal crashes.

However, Sosoliso was regarded as one of the safer domestic Nigerian airlines.




BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
Hear what is thought to have happened in the crash



SEE ALSO:
In pictures: Nigerian plane crash
23 Oct 05 |  In Pictures
Virgin takes to Nigeria's skies
28 Sep 04 |  Business
Country profile: Nigeria
11 Oct 05 |  Country profiles


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