Thursday, August 13, 2015

Four killed as Bristow helicopter plunges into Lagos lagoon

Top: A search aircraft over the scene. Below: L-R: Corpses of some of the victims; and rescue workers near the site of the crashed helicopter in Lagos...on Wednesday.
Tragedy struck around 3.30pm in the Alonge area of Owonroshoki, Lagos, as a Bristow helicopter carrying 10 passengers with two crew members on board, plunged into the lagoon.

It was learnt that four people were killed, while no fewer than six others sustained varying degrees of injury.

The aircraft crashed about five minutes to its scheduled landing time at the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos.

The helicopter, with registration number, 5N-BDG-760540, was coming from one of the oil rigs in the country.

It was learnt that many of the victims were working for an oil service firm, which was doing a job for a multinational oil company. The oil workers were coming back to Lagos when the incident occurred. The identities of the victims had yet to be known.

PUNCH Metro gathered that some fishermen, who were operating on the water at the time the incident happened, initiated the rescue mission.

Agencies, including the Accident Investigation Bureau, Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, Lagos State Emergency Management Agency, the Lagos State Fire Service, the police, Nigerian Airspace Management Agency, and the National Emergency Management Agency, were seen making efforts to recover the remaining two persons in the water.

The two missing persons had yet to be recovered as of 8.30pm when our correspondent left the area.

A resident of Onabanjo Street, Joshua Oladipupo, said he witnessed the moment the helicopter lost control and plunged into the water.

He said, “This afternoon around 3pm, I saw the chopper struggling to find a safe place to land. Suddenly, it nose-dived and I didn’t see it again. I rushed down to the scene. I saw two survivors swimming out of the lagoon.”

The Chairman of the boat operators group in the area, Alhaji Rasaq Isiaq, said he directed his men to rescue the victims immediately after the crash.

He said, “Initially, the aircraft wanted to land on a two-storey building, but moved forward and crashed inside the lagoon. I called my boys instantly and notified the DPO of the station. We rescued six people alive while four were dead.”

Another eyewitness, Mrs. Funmilola Adebiyi said the security agents arrived in the area about 30 minutes after the incident.

The spokesperson for NEMA, Ibrahim Farinloye, said, “The Accident Investigation Bureau will make proper briefing about the incident and other issues after investigation. We have asked the navy to help in the rescue operation.”

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