Lagos shock at fatal Nigeria air crash

People watch as a crane lifts the tail of a plane after it crashed at Iju-Ishaga neighbourhood in Lagos 4 June 2012

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The day after one of Nigeria's worst air crashes, workmen at the site of this crowded residential area of Lagos have been busy pulling out the charred debris.

Huge cranes have moved in to shift the scattered, twisted pieces of the McDonnell Douglas MD-83 plane where buildings once stood.

People clambered to stand on nearby rooftops to get a glimpse of the macabre scene.

It is one of such total devastation; the 153 people on board would have stood no chance of surviving.

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We saw the pilot was trying his best not to let it crash. But it was going up and down and up and down...”

End Quote Segun Adenakan Eyewitness

In doorways close to the site people stand, silently, staring in disbelief.

Gone are the billowing plumes of black smoke that filled the air straight after the crash - but the area is still smouldering.

Seeing the destruction on the ground it is somewhat eerie to look up as aircraft fly overhead en route to the domestic terminal at Lagos airport.

Bodies have been carried away from the site.

No-one yet knows how many died here or how many more lie under the rubble.

The plane apparently first hit a mango tree before careering into the buildings. It seems there was a delay before an almighty explosion.

People stand on top of a house viewing the site of a plane crash in Lagos, Nigeria, Monday 4 June 2012 People living nearby have been stunned by the crash

"I was outside the house when I saw the plane coming, with my two kids," Segun Adenakan told the BBC.

"We saw the pilot was trying his best not to let it crash. But it was going up and down and up and down and finally it landed outside my house, about two houses behind me."

"It entered a building and ten seconds after that the explosion came. After that, everybody ran out of the neighbourhood."

Aviation in Nigeria

• Seven major air crashes since 1992

• Security in the sector was revamped in 2007

• All airlines had to re-capitalise or be grounded, in an effort to ensure better safety

• In August 2010, the US gave Nigeria its top safety rating, allowing its domestic carriers to fly directly to America

• Lagos's Murtala Muhammed Airport is a major transport hub for West Africa, with 2.3m passengers passing through it in 2009

• Nigeria's government says it now has full radar coverage of the entire country

Children orphaned

Families were destroyed in seconds, leaving a community in shock.

Some children lost their parents to the tragedy.

Three siblings, who had been sent from their home on an errand just minutes before the disaster, returned to discover a terrifying scene.

Unable to find their parents and clearly traumatised, 11-year-old Joel Okwuchukwu and his younger siblings Chisom and Esther, are now being looked after by the Lagos state authorities until other relatives are traced.

As three days of mourning begin, questions are once again being asked about the safety of Nigeria's competitive airline industry.

Although things had improved recently, this was the fourth crash in the past decade to have killed at least one hundred people.

Amongst those Nigerians wealthy enough to fly around the country - rather than bumping along the country's poor roads - there are often discussions about which airline is the best.

Rescue workers search for bodies at the site of a plane crash in Lagos, Nigeria, Monday, June 4, 2012. Rescue workers are still trying to look for bodies

As reputations change, airlines fold and new ones start up - and the consensus rarely lasts for long.

With lengthy delays common, the Indian-owned Dana Air had built up a reputation as a carrier that flew on time.

But on 11 May a similar Dana Air plane to the one that crashed, possibly even the same aircraft, was forced to make an emergency landing in Lagos after developing a fault.

In the aftermath of this tragedy - one of the country's worst air crashes - many people are thinking to themselves it could have been me on that plane or my home that was hit.

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