Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Emergency units clueless about how to put out airplane fire: Dana Air McDonnell Douglas MD-83, 5N-RAM; Lagos, Nigeria


Dana Air Crash: Ex-Air Force Captain blames casualty on poor emergency plan 

A retired Group Captain of the Nigerian Air force, Mr Oladipo Ojikutu, has faulted the nation’s emergency plan on air crashes.

Group Captain Ojikutu testified on Tuesday before a Lagos State Coroner’s inquest into the 3rd of June Dana Air Crash which crashed into a building in densely populated Iju-Ishaga area of Lagos, claimed the lives of all the 153 persons on board and some other people on ground.

Mr Ojikutu told the Coroner, Magistrate Komolafe Oyetade, that an aircraft emergency was a local emergency and not a national one.

He explained that there was a need to empower all local governments to respond to air crash emergencies.

The Captain said that virtually all the emergency units that responded to the Dana Air Crash were clueless about how to put out an airplane fire.

“We don’t fight aircraft fire with water, but from the video footages of that day, I noticed they were using water and that didn’t help a bit,” he said.

He said a substance called foam chemical was supposed to be used.

The witness also testified that Nigerian Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) does not have sufficient manpower, adding that the last time the agency trained its staff was over 15years ago.

The Captain, who has 26 years’ experience as an Air Traffic Controller, said from the transcripts of the conversation between the Control Tower and the pilot of the ill-fated plane, there were gaps between what transpired.

He told the Coroner that the court was only given 13 minutes excerpt of what was supposed to be about 44 minutes of conversation between the tower and the pilot.

He added that the Air Traffic Controller on duty did not respond immediately he got a distress call from the pilot and when he ought to have taken charge of the emergency response, he handed over to a subordinate. 


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