By Ralph Christopher
Eyewitnesses at Bassa, slum community bothering the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, have recounted how the ill-fated Nigerian Air Force NAF201, a B350 aircraft came down.
The witnesses said they had thought the aircraft was engaged in aerial maneuvers, the usual signature tune of the NAF, but it turned out they were mistaken as what they witnessed led to fatalities.
One of such eyewitnesses, Vivian Ude, said the aircraft almost crashed into their compound as it almost landed there when the pilot lost control.
She said she witnessed human being been roasted immediately the aircraft came down and went up in flames.
She recounted the last minutes of the crash, saying the military plane hovered in the air for sometime, came close to the roof of their house and finally crashed meters away from their residence, describing the incident as providential escape for her and neighbours within the neighbourhood.
She said: “ I am fainting because of what I experienced. I have never seen such all my life. It was a huge and fearful tragedy. It happened almost immediately I returned from church service.
“It was as I was going out to make some purchases only for me to see the aircraft coming close as if it wanted to land in our compound.
“The pilot must have been struggling to stabilise the plane which was why it was as if he wanted to land and go up again. I thought it was a dangerous military maneuvers.
“The aircraft had not got to the spot where they make last plunge to land which was what made me feel all was not well. Before I could comprehend what it was, I heard a bang and smoke balls filled everywhere.
“I was so afraid and in shock because I saw human elements burning. I was helpless and couldn’t offer any immediate assistance even when we rushed to the place for fear of explosion and we had no water nor anything to offer help to the victims, who I believe may have all died by then”
Another resident Abubakar Mahadi, who claimed to be a cattle pastoralist, said they had thought the aircraft was performing aerial display until they heard a bang and bals of fire everywhere.
He said they could not immediately get to the place due to difficult terrain and fear of explosions as they noticed that it was a military aircraft which could be conveying explosives and bombs.
Yet, another eyewitness said the incident was too sudden to be fully captured.
According to the eyewitness, Joseph Agabo, they aircraft was already in flames before it crash landed. He said he only witness balls of fire and a bang, adding that he never expected anyone in board to be alive after the incident, wondering why aviation experts have not yet found solutions to crashes involving aircrafts.