* Pilot struggled to avoid residential areas, says eyewitness
Deji Elumoye, Kingsley Nwezeh, Adedayo Akinwale, Udora Orizu and Kazeem Sumaina in Abuja
The United States of America; former Vice President Atiku Abubakar; Senate President, Dr. Ahmad Lawan; Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu; former Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki and the House of Representatives’ Committee on the Air Force, have commiserated with families of the victims of yesterday’s Beechcraft KingAir B350i plane crash.
This is coming as eyewitness’ accounts said that the pilot struggled to avoid residential areas before it nosedived.
In a tweet yesterday, Atiku said: “I have just learnt of the crash of a military aircraft near Abuja. My thoughts and prayers are with the families of those onboard the ill-fated flight.”
Sanwo-Olu has also commiserated with families, friends and associates of the victims of the unfortunate crash.
Sanwo-Olu expressed his condolence in a message signed by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Gboyega Akosile, yesterday.
He prayed that God would grant the deceased eternal rest and grant the families they left behind the fortitude to bear the irreplaceable losses.
In a tweet yesterday, the US Mission in Nigeria commiserated with the NAF, the families of the officers and all Nigerians on the tragedy.
“The United States expresses sincere condolences to the @NigAirForce, family members and all Nigerians for the loss of life in today’s aircraft crash,” it tweeted.
Saraki, on his official twitter handle @bukolasaraki, said: “At this time, my prayers are with the Nigerian Air Force and the families and friends of the military personnel involved in today’s Beechcraft KingAir B350i plane crash.
“I pray for strength for the families.”
Lawan has also expressed shock and sadness over the tragic news of the crash of the military aircraft.
Lawan, in a statement by his Media Adviser, Mr. Ola Awoniyi, sent his condolences to the families of those killed in the accident and prayed that Allah would comfort them in this time of grief.
The House of Representatives Committee on Air force has also commiserated with the Nigerian Air force, families of the victims involved in the crash.
In statement issued yesterday, the Chairman of the Committee, Hon. Shehu Koko while sending his condolence message on behalf of his committee said he witnessed the incident along with the Chief of Air staff and promised investigation will begin in earnest to determine the remote cause.
While mourning with families of the deceased, Koko urged Nigerians to remain calm and await the outcome of the investigation.
Meanwhile, eyewitness accounts said the pilot of the ill-fated aircraft struggled to avoid residential areas before it nosedived.
An eyewitness and resident of Bassa-Jiwa village located close to the newly built airport rail tracks, Airport road, Abuja, narrated the incident to THISDAY.
“We saw a plane struggling and it’s like it was about taking off and unfortunately, the pilot was about going back to the airport before we knew, we heard a loud noise.
“We came out and we saw fire towards the place and the plane landed with its nose.
“The villagers that came out first with buckets fetching water from the river close by to quench the fire before the fire service and Army came and asked us to leave”, he said.
Another eyewitness said the pilot appeared to have struggled to control the aircraft to a avoid crashing on residential areas and landed in a bush.
Meanwhile, the Federal Capital Territory Emergency Management Agency said it recovered seven bodies from the crash site.
The FERMA Director-General, Alhaji Abass Idriss, reportedly said the remains of the aircraft passengers were deposited at the Nigeria Air Force morgue.