Many bodies recovered in Nigeria plane crash not identifiable, official says

Story highlights

  • United States is sending an investigator to Nigeria
  • Rescuers have accounted for 149 bodies, but many are not identifiable
  • The plane was carrying 153 passengers and crew
  • It crashed Sunday in a crowded Lagos neighborhood

Rescuers are having difficulty identifying victims of a Nigerian plane crash that left some bodies dismembered or burned beyond recognition, an official said Wednesday.

Dana Air's Flight 992 slammed into a two-story apartment building Sunday in a crowded Lagos neighborhood. The plane was carrying 153 passengers and crew.

The grisly recovery has accounted for 149 bodies, but only 52 are identifiable, said Ade Ipaye, the Lagos state attorney general. Another 97 bodies and several body parts are not identifiable, he said. American authorities are helping in the identification process.

Authorities said before that the crash also killed at least 10 people on the ground.

They have not said why the Boeing MD-83, piloted by an American captain, went down Sunday. Authorities have recovered the flight data recorder and the cockpit voice recorder, which are expected to help determine a cause.

"Will not comment on the accident investigation," Ipaye said Wednesday.

The National Transportation Safety Board in the United States said Wednesday that it was dispatching accident investigator Dennis Jones to assist in the investigation. The United

    Nine Americans were among those killed, according to State Department spokesman Mark Toner. The department earlier said seven citizens, including Capt. Peter Waxtan, were aboard the flight, although a list has not been released.

    Waxtan declared an emergency as the plane was on final approach to Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos. Witnesses reported that the plane appeared to experience engine trouble, said Oscar Wason, Dana Air's director of operations.

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    The plane appeared to be approaching the vicinity of the airport in Lagos high, its nose tilted upward, witnesses said. It crashed 11 miles north of the runway, hitting the ground tail first.

    The flight from the Nigerian capital of Abuja crashed at 3:43 p.m. in the neighborhood of Iju Ishaga, according to the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority.

    "The plane pushed the wall of our building in, and it hit everything," said Kingsley Okeke, who was inside at the time. "There was fire everywhere."

    Nigerian aviation authorities have suspended Dana Air's operating license.

    "As soon as we have concluded the recertification of the airline, if they are capable, then their license will be reinstated," said Sam Adurogboye, spokesman for the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority.

    Waxtan joined Dana Air on March 26. Previously, he was a captain for Spirit Airlines, based in South Florida, from 1997 to 2009, the airline said. He also flew for Falcon Air Express, a charter airline in Miami, CNN affiliate WPEC reported.

    Privately owned Dana Air began operations in 2008 and is based in Lagos.

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