Nigerian Plane Crash Kills 163; President Calls for Three Days of Mourning
A plane crash that occurred Sunday in Nigeria's largest city of Lagos has left 163 people dead and caused an outpouring of grief around the world.
Dana Air flight 9J-997 was headed from the Nigerian capital of Abuja to Lagos when the accident occurred around 3:30 p.m. local time.
The 22-year-old Boeing MD-83, which was purchased by the Nigerian airline from Alaska Airlines, crashed into a two-story building just outside a densely populated airport neighborhood in Lagos. The plane broke in two and burst into flames after smashing into the building.
All 153 passengers and crew members aboard the flight were killed, as were 10 additional people on the ground. Officials believe the death toll could rise as rescue workers continue their search through the charred rubble of the two-story building.
"I don't believe there are any survivors," Nigeria's director of aviation Harold Denuren said following the crash.
A majority of the passengers on board the flight were Nigerian but among the dead were six Chinese citizens, the Chinese Embassy in Nigeria has confirmed.
On Sunday, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan declared three days of official mourning for the victims of the crash.
In a statement released by the president, Jonathan said he "prays that God Almighty will grant the families of the victims of the plane crash the courage and fortitude to bear the irreplaceable loss."
Sunday's aviation accident was the fourth airplane crash in a decade in Nigeria in which more than 100 people had been killed, according to the BBC.
The accident has caused an outpouring of grief via social media around the world.
"Please pray for everyone who lost their lives in the plane crash in Nigeria and for their families. God bless them all," Twitter user @Donaeo tweeted.
"Let us direct our prayers to Nigeria regarding today's plane crash and the lives lost & families who have to bear this tragedy. Thank you," Bishop Noel Jones of Noel Jones Ministries in Los Angeles tweeted.
One Nigerian-American took to her blog to express her grief.
"I pray for all those who died on the flight, their families, their friends and for the country of my birth. Nigeria you can and must do better," Nigerian-American blogger Amy Mauritz wrote on her blog.
An investigation into what caused the crash was still ongoing, but some observers have speculated that the plane's age may have been an issue as Nigerian law prohibits the use of an aircraft that is older than 20 years.