The wreckage of the crashed plane is seen near the Lagos airport in Nigeria, June 3, 2012. A passenger plane carrying 153 people crashed into a two-storey building in Nigeria's southwestern Lagos State on Sunday, killing all the people on board and 40 others on the ground. At least four Chinese were among the passengers, the Chinese Embassy in the West African country has confirmed. (Xinhua/Ezekiel Taiwo)
LAGOS, June 4 (Xinhua) -- Nigeria on Monday started three days of national mourning for the 193 victims of one of the country's worst plane crashes that happened in the economic capital Lagos a day earlier.
The Dana Air flight with 153 people on board plunged into a densely populated area of Lagos near the airport on Sunday afternoon, killing all people aboard and 40 others on the ground, according to the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA).
Local newspapers said Monday that several high-ranking military and government officials and central bank bureaucrats were on board the plane, which was traveling from capital Abuja to Lagos, a trip of some 50 minutes. Also among the passengers were a group of wedding guests.
The Chinese Embassy in Nigeria confirmed that six Chinese nationals were among the dead.
An overnight search and rescue mission was under way.
Nigerian government officials said they did not expect to find any survivors from the crashed Boeing MD83.
Rescuers have so far pulled out at least 62 bodies from the charred wreckage, while most of the bodies at the crash site were beyond recognition.
Aviation Minister Stella Odua, who has rushed to the scene, said the plane had sent a distress signal minutes before it fell to the ground.
Reports said Monday that the black boxes had been found and handed over to police to probe into the cause of the fatal accident.
An eyewitness who lives near the crash site said he saw the plane flying lower and lower and swaying continuously.
"It's obvious that the pilot was trying to control the plane and it crashed and began to burn," he said.
At the site, a church, a two-story residential building and a printing shop were badly damaged.
Xinhua reporters who hurried to the field saw more than 40 people living in the two-story building, each having six flats, were trapped inside after the crash. A wild inferno engulfed the building and sent out heavy smoke.
Fire engines were brought in to put off the fire and two cranes also arrived to clear the debris and help residents out.
Police officers and rescue workers were seen on the ground to evacuate victims.
"Military helicopters have also been hovering around the area to provide security," a Xinhua staff added.
A crowd of 2,000 onlookers climbed onto rooftops and other areas to follow the aftermath.
Security personnel deployed in the area had difficulty in controlling the large crowd of sympathizers around the building.
Ganiu Afolabi, a resident in the area, told Xinhua that there was palpable fear that the building may collapse soon, due to the fire.
"It is obvious that the building is now weak and we just pray it doesn't fall off because the fire cannot be quenched," he said.
Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, who declared a three-day national mourning, had canceled all his public engagements and was due to visit the crash site Monday.
He has also ordered the fullest possible investigation into the accident.
A statement from his office said Aviation Minister Odua was expected to present an interim report to the government as quickly as possible.
The Nigerian leader said every possible effort will be made to ensure that the right lessons are learnt from the tragedy and that further measures will be put in place to boost aviation safety in the country.
ABUJA, June 3 (Xinhua) -- Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan on Sunday declared three days of national mourning for those who lost their lives in an ill-fated commercial airplane crash in southwestern Lagos State, according to a statement from his office.
The Dana Air flight from Abuja to Lagos crashed a few km to the airport with over 150 people on board, according to aviation authorities. Full story