May 4

This Day in History

Disaster

May 4, 2002:

Nigerian aircraft crashes in crowded city

On this day in 2002, an EAS Airline plane crashes into the town of Kano, Nigeria, killing 148 people. The Nigerian BAC 1-11-500 aircraft exploded in a densely populated section of the northern Nigerian city.

The Executive Airline Services twin-engine plane took off from Kano at about 1:30 p.m. with 76 people on board headed for Lagos. Witnesses on the ground saw that the plane immediately showed signs of distress before plunging toward the ground. It then ripped through a working-class neighborhood, shearing off the roofs of dozens of homes and a couple of mosques. About three full blocks of structures were destroyed.

Many of the victims on the ground were burned to death in the fiery explosion. Two passengers on the plane did manage to survive. One, Najib Ibrahim, said, I thought I had no chance. I was surrounded by fire. I was lucky because I was sitting near the exit door. Some of the passengers who died were government officials who had been attending a book party for Nigeria's former ambassador to the United Nations, Maitama Sule.

Just prior to the crash, Nigerian authorities had voiced concern about the use of old aircraft by the many private carriers operating in the country and had announced a ban on planes older than 22 years. However, the British Aircraft plane that crashed in Kano was not an old airplane. Years later, the cause of the crash still had not been determined.

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