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Insight & Analysis - April 24, 2022

10 Air Crashes that Shook Nigeria

Air crashes in Nigeria are uncommon, but they are usually catastrophic. 

Nigeria has been the victim of several tragic accidents, most of which occur on the roadways. Meanwhile, some of the air crash mishaps have left the country scarred.

Nigeria has a history of severe air disasters involving passenger flights, many of which have jolted the country and left people mourning their loved ones. 

There are usually no survivors of air crashes, yet some fortunate people have survived the disaster with horrible burns and a narrative to tell.

Here are ten air crashes that shook Nigeria.


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1. May 2002

A BAC One-Eleven aeroplane operated by Executive Airlines Services from Jos to Lagos via Kano crashed shortly after takeoff from Kano airport, killing 72 persons.

According to the Aviation Safety Network, “The plane apparently stuck shortly after leaving Kano. It landed in Gwammaja, a densely populated region on the outskirts of Kano, about half a mile from the airport. 

As it broke apart and erupted in flames, it shredded roofs from two-story concrete dwellings and sliced a mosque in half. A total of 23 residences, as well as a school and a mosque, were damaged in the Gwammaja area.” 

According to reports, the plane had been grounded for 52 days due to engine difficulties before the disaster.

Following the incident, Nigeria’s aviation ministry banned any aircraft older than 22 years.

2. October 2006

A Boeing 737 flown by ADC Airlines crashed shortly after takeoff near the Abuja airport, killing 97 people.

The ADC Airlines flight took off from Lagos on a scheduled domestic route to Sokoto, stopping in Abuja on the way.

The Boeing 737 contacted the ground shortly after takeoff from Abuja airport, broke up, and caught fire in a cornfield. A woman working in the field was killed, according to reports, when she was struck by debris from the collision.

The fundamental cause of the crash was terrible weather, but the pilot’s inability to acknowledge the current meteorological conditions was the proximate cause.

The crash is the 15th deadliest involving a Boeing 737-200.

3. September 1992

The Nigerian Airforce’s Lockheed C-130H Hercules crashed in Lagos, killing all 158 people on board.

One engine failed immediately after takeoff, followed by a second engine. 

The crew attempted to land the heavily loaded plane in the Ejigbo canal, but a third engine failed. 

The Hercules slammed into the swamp nose-first. The precise number of people killed or injured is unknown. However, there were at least 150 Nigerians, five Ghanaians, one Tanzanian, one Zimbabwean, and one Ugandan participating.

At the time, it was the worst accident involving a Lockheed C-130.

4. June 2012

The tragic Dana airline tragedy claimed the lives of 153 people. When a McDonnell Douglas MD-83 passenger airliner operated by Dana Air crashed into a residential area of Lagos, Nigeria, it was completely destroyed. 

The plane crashed, killing all 146 passengers and seven crew members. At least six people have been discovered inside the buildings damaged by the aircraft.

The crash is presently the third-worst involving an MD-80.

5. November 1996

A Boeing 727 flown by ADC airline en route from Port Harcourt to Lagos crashed in Ejirin, near Lagos, killing all 144 people on board.

During an evasive action manoeuvre, the plane lost control and crashed. The pilot’s attempt to avoid colliding with another aircraft was unsuccessful. On collision, the aircraft crashed and disintegrated.

A Boeing 727 flown by ADC airline that was en route from Port Harcourt to Lagos crashed in Ejirin, near Lagos, killing all 144 people on board.

6. October 2005 

A Boeing 737 operated by Bellview Airlines crashed near Lagos, killing 117 people. At 8:35, Bellview Flight 210, a domestic flight to Abuja, took off from Lagos. 

Three minutes after takeoff, the tower lost radio communication with the plane. The wreckage was discovered the next morning, around 30 kilometres north of Lagos.

The crash was attributed to bad weather.

At the time, it was the ninth-worst disaster involving a Boeing 737-200.

7. December 2005

A McDonnell-Douglas operated by Sossoliso Airlines crashed during landing at the Port Harcourt airport, killing 108 people, the majority of them were students of Loyola Jesuit College in Abuja. Two people were retrieved alive from the wreckage.

The weather was blamed for the accident’s primary cause; however, an investigating report stated that the immediate cause was “the crew’s decision to continue the approach beyond the Decision Altitude without having the runway or airport in sight.”

Poor airport architecture and malfunctioning runway illumination were both contributing factors. It is the fourth deadliest crash involving a DC-9-30 to date.


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