A shadow fell on House Number 41, Akande Street, off Popoola Street, just as the residents savoured the rest of their Sunday evening. Time was 3.30 pm and Abayomi Adeolu, 22, had gone out to fetch water but he would scurry back to meet death and devastation.
A solitary shriek, the rumbling cry of some towering force from the sky plummeted into the two-storey building he shared with Bolaji, his brother. It was the noise of a Dana Passenger Airplane. The plane with 153 passengers on board sank into the building with a deadly groan, crashing into two other bungalows as it did. But unlike many residents and survivors who scampered away from the scene, Adeolu tossed off his bucket and sprinted up to the second floor.
By the time he got to what used to be their apartment, he met the bodies of his brother and two girls from a neighbouring flat. “I saw my brother in pieces. He was dead. He was totally dead. I only went out to fetch water…but I came back to meet him dead. I have no one now.”
Adeolu wasn’t the only casualty of the ill-fated crash that turned three houses in Iju-Ishaga, a suburb of Lagos into a graveyard of rubble and residents.
Efforts to rescue victims of the crash were hampered by the presence of a huge crowd of urchins and spectators. Inaccessibility of the crash area also made it difficult for rescue teams, which included the Police, Red Cross, Army, FRSC, Nigeria Air Force and Fire Service to get to the crash site. The General Manager, Lagos State Emergency Management Agency, Dr Femi Osanyintolu, said the building on which the plane landed must be collapsed for any rescue operation to take place. He also said they had to be cautious in collapsing the building because of the location of the site of the crash in a residential area.
While officers of the fire service and the police struggled to put out the fire, many of the spectators ignored the raging inferno at the scene to take pictures of the wreck with their camera phones.