LAGOS: A plane carrying 153 people plunged into a residential area of Nigeria's largest city on Sunday, with all those aboard feared dead, an inferno igniting at the scene and buildings badly damaged.
A number of people on the ground were also believed killed, an emergency official said, as around 10 burnt bodies had been removed from a building damaged in the crash.
President Goodluck Jonathan declared three days of national mourning for victims of the crash and pledged an investigation as rescuers rushed to pull out survivors from the neighbourhood near the airport.
The cause of the crash of the Dana airline plane was unclear, but the emergency official as well as an aviation official said the cockpit recorder had been located and handed over to police.
Thick smoke rose from the area and flames could be seen shooting from a two-storey building. The plane crashed in a plot containing what residents described as a church, a printing shop and the two-storey residential building.
Chaos broke out as thousands of residents swarmed the area and authorities sought to restore calm, with rocks and wood planks being thrown back and forth. Some residents sought to help by guiding firehoses through the crowds.
"I just saw the plane -- it was going down and down and down," said 23-year-old Gift Onibo.
Another resident, Tunji Dawodu, said, "I was just coming out of church around 3:30 pm when I heard a loud noise.
"I thought it was an explosion," he said. "Then there was a huge flame from the building where the plane has crashed into."
Some residents said it appeared that the plane had nose-dived into the neighbourhood while others described it as swaying back and forth before crashing.
"It was waving, waving, waving," Yusuf Babatunde, 26, said at the scene. "The pilot was struggling to control it. It crashed -- it just started burning."
Wreckage including a detached wing could be seen in the neighbourhood as the inferno burned. Residents reported seeing bodies being taken out of the area as rescue workers rushed in and a helicopter landed.
"It was a Dana (airline) flight out of (the capital) Abuja to Lagos with about 153 people on board," Nigeria's head of civil aviation Harold Demuren told AFP.
Asked if anyone likely survived the crash he said, "I don't believe there are any survivors."
Late Sunday evening, Demuren said rescuers had so far found no survivors from the plane.
A spokesman for Nigeria's accident investigation bureau was at the scene and said the wreckage of the plane continued to burn.
"The plane is still burning and gas coming out pervades the whole place, making search and rescue efforts difficult," Tunji Oketunbi told AFP.
The official with the National Emergency Management Agency said the plane had crashed onto two buildings: a church and the two-storey residential structure.
"The plane is still burning as I speak with you, and there is smoke all over the place," he said at around 7:30 pm local time (1830 GMT).
A spokesman for Nigerian airline Dana confirmed one of its planes was involved in the crash but could not immediately provide further details.
"I can confirm that one of our planes crashed today on the outskirts of Lagos," Tony Usidamen told AFP. "We lost communication with the aircraft. We are going to issue an official statement."
Lagos, the largest city in Africa's most populous nation, is home to an estimated 15 million people.
The accident came after another plane crash on Saturday night in the capital of the nearby West African nation of Ghana, which saw a cargo plane overshoot a runway and hit a passenger bus, killing at least 10 people.
The Allied Air cargo plane had departed from Lagos and was to land in Accra.
Nigeria has a spotty aviation record, though Dana has been considered to be a relatively safe domestic airline.
It began flights in 2008 and had been operating up to 27 daily flights.
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