The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Plane breaks into pieces
- 117 people feared killed in Nigerian air tragedy

Lagos, Oct. 23 (Reuters): A Nigerian airliner with 117 people aboard crashed and disintegrated into flames shortly after take-off from Lagos and there were no signs of survivors, officials said today.

The plane broke apart on impact with swampy earth near Lissa, about 30 km north of Lagos, shortly after leaving for the Nigerian capital of Abuja last night.

“I can’t confirm if there are any survivors, but there is no trace so far,” Nigerian Red Cross general secretary Abiodun Orebiyi said. “The plane was totally destroyed. It was scattered everywhere.”

Dismembered and burned body parts, fuselage fragments and engine parts were strewn across a large area of disturbed earth, according to images of the crash scene aired by a local television channel.

A cheque for 948,000 naira ($7,200) from the evangelical Deeper Life church was one of a number of personal papers found in the wreckage.

There was a smoking 70-foot crater where the main impact occurred and the roofs of nearby houses were blown off by the impact, Orebiyi said.

“The aircraft has crashed and it is a total loss. We can’t even see a whole human body,” a senior Ogun state police official said from the crash site.

The Boeing 737-200 was believed to be carrying a top official of the Economic Community of West African States, a US consular official, two Britons and some other Europeans, airline officials said.

Bellview Airlines flight 210 left at 8.45 pm (local time) and lost contact minutes later during a heavy electrical storm.

It was carrying 111 passengers and six crew, the Federal Airport Authority said, updating an earlier figure of 110 passengers. The pilot made a distress call after take-off, indicating the plane had a technical problem, a source at the presidency said.

Distraught relatives wailed and prayed at the Lagos airport as a Bellview Airlines official read out a list of passengers. The list may not be entirely accurate because tickets are often transferred between people in Nigeria, he said.

The route the airliner was taking is heavily travelled, with dozens of flights each day between the port of Lagos ' one of the world’s biggest cities ' and Abuja in the heart of Africa’s most populous nation.

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