The two remaining persons on board the ill-fated helicopter, that crashed into the Lagos lagoon on Wednesday, have been recovered, even as the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency(NIMASA) has restated its commitment to Search and Rescue(SAR) operations in the nation’s maritime domain.
According to a press statement from the agency,”NIMASA was part of the team that participated in the search rescue operations of the crashed Bristow helicopter at the Oworonshoki end of the Lagos lagoon on Wednesday lasted several hours alongside other government agencies, where six of the twelve passengers on board were rescued.”
The release signed by the the agency’s spokesperson, Hajia Lami Tumaka, stated that officers of SAR swung into action on hearing about the incident with one of the SAR boats “NIMASA BENUE” to support rescue operations at the site of the accident.
Meanwhile, the Acting Director-General of NIMASA, Mr. Haruna Baba Jauro has described the incident as unfortunate, and commiserated with the families of the victims and the management of the ill-fated aircraft.
The last two victims, who were fished out of the lagoon by the emergency management agencies and local divers at about 10.30am, had, however, died.The bodies were identified as that of the pilot and his assistant.
Operatives of emergency agencies on Thursday morning resumed the search for two missing persons on board the Bristow Helicopter, which plunged into Lagos lagoon in Owonroshoki on Wednesday
The chopper, said to have 12 passengers, took off from an oil rig in the South-South and was billed to arrive in Lagos at about 3.35pm, crashed into the water a few minutes before its arrival time.
Four bodies were recovered while six others, who sustained varying degrees of injuries, are receiving medical attention at the Gbagada General Hospital.
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. It was 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.
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.”
LASEMA General Manager, Mr. Michael Akindele, said the identities of the victims would be confirmed as soon as the manifest was received.
He said, “We are still awaiting the manifest but we were told that 12 people were on board. The four corpses had been taken to the Mainland Hospital Mortuary. As I speak to you, rescue operations are still on.”
The General Manager, Public Affairs, Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, Mr. Fan Ndubuoke, in a statement confirmed that 12 persons were on board the ill-fated aircraft.
He stated that workers were on ground to rescue the victims.
The NCAA statement read in part, “A Bristow helicopter with registration number, 5N – BDG – 760540, en route from one of the nation’s oil rigs has crashed at Oworonshoki in Lagos this evening.
“The helicopter scheduled to arrive Lagos at 15.35pm had 12 people on board including the crew. However, the number of casualties has yet to be determined.
“At present officials of the Accident Investigation Bureau, National Emergency Management Agency and the Nigeria Police are at the site providing rescue operation for the victims.”
Bristow Helicopters Chief Pilot, Captain Obinna Ojiako, told one of our correspondents on the telephone that the company was still gathering information on the accident. He promised that a statement would be issued, which had yet to be done as of press time.
Officials from aviation agencies, including the Accident Investigation Bureau and the NCAA, told one of our correspondents that there were no indications that the pilot made a distress call before plunging into the lagoon.
Sources said Bristow officials had called aviation agencies to inform them that the aircraft they were expecting to land had yet to do so.