Nigeria has had some gloomy past, this is one of the few that is darker than night!
It was December 10, 2005.
It was not a Sunday as it is this year, it was a Saturday, and all passengers that converged at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International airport, Abuja, were looking forward to a pleasurable journey.
So it must have been for the 103 passengers that filed up to join a 7-crew member aboard a Sosoliso Airline Flight 1145 going to Port-Harcourt.
It must have been particularly pleasant for the 61 secondary school students from Layola Jesuit College in Abuja, as it marked the end of a term and were going home to enjoy the Christmas season with their family.
And to have been on the same plane with a popular televangelist, Pastor Bimbo Odukoya, whom some of them might had been seeing only on television, must have doubled the excitement of some of them.
The journey which started at about 12:25pm, was supposed to take at most 2hours 40minutes, but would end up taking forever for majority of the people on board. Nigeria This Week In History somberly look at the circumstances that led to the unfortunate crash of the plane and lessons to be learnt from it.
It continued a smooth uneventful journey until it was close to when the captain would land the plane at the Port Harcourt International airport.
According to eye-witness account, the condition of the airport were dark skies and light precipitation – it was an adverse weather for landing.
Although instructions were said to be given to the captain, which this article does not intend to delve into, the resultant effect was captured by Wikipedia:
The DC-9 slammed onto the grass strip between the runway and the taxiway. 60 meters from the first impact point, the empennage (tail of the plane) struck a concrete drainage culvert, the aircraft then disintegrated and burst into flames. The cockpit and the forward fuselage broke off from its main body and slid along the taxiway, creating a total trail of wreckage of 120 meters.
Imagining it, it was a gory scene!
But this revelation made it gorier; it was said that Port Harcourt Airport had only one fire truck and no ambulances. And the firemen in the airport were said to had been forced to reposition their equipment at that period due to the stormy weather.
As a result, it was reported that many passengers survived the initial impact and died in the resulting fire.
The conclusion on the cause of the crash was given by the Nigeria Accident Investigation Bureau that:
the probable cause of the crash was due to the crew’s decision to continue the approach beyond the Decision Altitude without having the runway in sight. The adverse weather condition was listed as a contributing factor.
All 7 crew members plus 101 passengers died from the accident, only two survived.
One of the survivors is the pastor of Fountain of Life Church, Bimbo Odukoya (who also died) personal assistant, Bunmi Amusan, who got married the following year to become Bunmi Adams.
The other survivor, Kechi Okwuchi, who was one of the 61 students of Layola Jesuit College, Abuja, in the plane, was badly burned.
After series of surgery which lasted for about five years, she went back to school and graduated with a first class degree from university of Saint Thomas, Texas in may 16, 2015.
Her angelic voice however brought her to the eyes of the world when she participated in year 2017 America’s Got Talent, and finished the competition as a finalist.
AceGist pray that God will continue to comfort their love ones and the souls of the departed continue to rest in peace.
God bless Nigeria.
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