Nigeria aircraft crashes close to Abuja Airport, killing seven
Seven people have died after a Nigerian military aircraft crashed short of a runway in the capital Abuja on Sunday morning, 21 February 2021, according to officials. The Nigerian Air Force aircraft had reported engine failure, the military spokesman tweeted. The aircraft was on the way to Minna, in the northern state of Niger to try to rescue 42 people who had been kidnapped. Air Force spokesman, Air Vice Marshal Ibikunle Daramola, said that all those on board the small aircraft had died. In a follow-up communication Sunday afternoon, a spokesman at the Ministry of Aviation, James Odaudu, said the "aircraft reported engine failure at time 10h39am and crashed landed on the final approach path of Abuja Runway 22 at time 10h48UTC." Odaudu said fire fighters have been deployed to the scene to put out a raging blaze that had engulfed the airplane.
An aviation worker who asked not to be named, citing lack of official clearance to talk to the press, told CNN that he witnessed the crash.
"The crash occurred not very far from the runway. The pilot had tried returning to the runway after taking off," he said.
The worker said the pilot swerved the plane to its crash site which is in a desolate area. He said the aircraft narrowly avoided warehouses and makeshift settlements around the Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport.
In a series of tweets, the Air Force asked the public to "remain calm and await the outcome of investigation".
Witnesses say they heard a loud sound, then the aircraft burst into flames, reports the BBC's Ishaq Khalid.
Vice Marshal Daramola told the BBC that the aircraft was on a mission to try to rescue 42 people, including students and staff abducted from their boarding school in the town of Kagara on Wednesday, when it turned back following engine failure.
Source: BBC, CNN