None of the dead victims of Sunday’s Dana plane crash will be buried until another two weeks. The Lagos State Government said on Wednesday that it would need the period to validate the identity of the dead victims and conduct an autopsy.
Though 103 of the victims were said to have been burnt beyond recognition, 52 bodies had been identified as of Wednesday. But the relations who have expressed a desire for quick burials would have to wait for the state government to process the necessary paperwork in line with its coroner law.
The state Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Ade Ipaye, who said this at a briefing, said the two weeks would also enable the government to work out victims’ compensation with the Dana Airline’s insurer, Lloyds Underwriters of London, United Kingdom.
Lloyds meanwhile has announced that it would pay compensation of $30,000 to each of the victims within the next 30 days. The compensation totals N693m.
Ipaye led top state officials, Dana Airline personnel, representatives of the insurance companies and other stakeholders to the media briefing to give an update on developments after the crash. He said, “You must understand that the government is working to protect the interest of the victims and their relatives.
“We are discussing with Dana Airline and its insurer to make sure that the bodies are properly identified and matched with relatives that claim the bodies.
“But that is not enough; we must conduct autopsies for each one of the recovered bodies. Fifty-two identifiable bodies were recovered, 97 were charred remains (to be taken) for further scientific probe. The total number with us is 149.
“We concluded autopsy on 12 bodies yesterday (Tuesday). We have done 18 today (Wednesday). By tomorrow (today), we will finish autopsy on 52 identifiable bodies. By Friday, work will start on the 97 charred remains.
“We also have to keep a detailed file for future references. We must issue Death Certificates. It is expected that all these would have to be done in the next two weeks when the autopsy will end.”
Ipaye said the state had liaised with embassies of the foreigners on the ill-fated flight for pre-mortem record to match its pathological investigation.
The Nigerian solicitor for Lloyds, the lead insurance company for the airline, Chief Yemi Oshikoya, said in line with the insurance policies that operate in Nigeria and globally, families of each victim were entitled to an initial compensation of $30,000 and a substantive payment of not more than $100,000.
He added that the insurance firm would comply with the initial payment within 30 days.
“The law says in a case of an accident which leads to death or injury, the claimant is entitled to an initial payment of $30,000 and substantive payment of $100,000.
“But all this compensation comes with litigation. We want to reassure the families that we won’t go below the international standards.”
Oshikoya explained that the company would also be compensating families of the victims who were not on board but lost their lives in the crash.
He added, “We have already asked our surveyor, who is also a Nigerian, to access the crash site and evaluate the value of the houses that were affected.
“It is the report that would determine the compensation. We will be discussing with every claimant. We do not want families to suffer additional hardship. It may be faster than we think but it has to do with litigation.”
The Chief Medical Examiner of Lagos State, Prof.Oladapo Obafunwa, said that the forensic team would ensure that all bodies were identified and that the team would open an identification file for each of the 149 bodies for future reference.
Obafunwa noted that the two weeks wait was to ensure that thorough scientific examinations were carried out on both identifiable and unrecognisable bodies.
According to him, when a body comes into the mortuary for examination, some paper work on identification must be done after which the body is taken to the radiology unit for X-rays, then it is transferred to the autopsy team before it is handed over to the dental team for conclusive examination.
“All these are done to ensure that accurate results are obtained and labelled against specific corpses,” he said.