15.12.2005 General News

Ghanaian Pilot Dies In Nigerian Air Crash

By ghananewsreel.com
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A young Ghanaian pilot, formely with Ghana Airways is among the dead in the Nigerian Air crash last Saturday in lagos. Gerald Yakubu Andan was the operating First Officer for Sosoliko Airlines, which crash landed and burst into flames at the Port Harcourt Airport According to sources, this was Geralds last week with the airline since his contract was ending. He was even preparing to get married in three weeks.

Gerald attended Christ The King International School, Achimota Sec School, (akora 1990) , and the University Of Science and Technology, Kumasi. This is the second time a Ghanaian Pilot has died in a Nigerian Air crash. The first was barely two months ago when 117 passengers and crew of a commercial airliner crashed on an internal flight in Nigeria. The operating First Officer for that particular airline was also a Ghanaian, who was on board with his wife.

Meanwhile, Nigerian parents holding school awards and photographs of their children, who died in a plane crash at Port Harcourt airport, prayed and wept at a memorial service within sight of the wreckage on Tuesday.

Some 50 school children, aged 10 to 17, from a Catholic college in the capital Abuja, were among 106 people killed in the crash of a Sosoliso Airlines DC9 aircraft on Saturday during a storm at the airport of the southern oil city.

"We were here on that day waiting for our children. We watched it happen. It was terrible.

"We just watched our children burning without being able to help," said Ngozi Ugochukwu, who lost her 13-year-old son Uzodinma in the crash.

She was holding a picture of Uzodinma, who had called just before going to Abuja airport to catch the flight, asking for his mother to bring his favourite food to the airport.

"I had the food but there was no one to eat it," she said.

Parents, other relatives, clergymen and dignitaries prayed and sang gospel songs in several tents and awnings erected in the grass close to the airport runway, about 200m from the wreckage of the aircraft.

Ify Ilabor, who lost all three of her children, became hysterical as she walked close to the debris and broke down, sobbing uncontrollably on the ground.

Sylvester Iroghama, who lost his 11-year-old daughter Silvia, was carrying an award she won for academic achievement.

"She was a special joy to us. How can I forget my jewel," he said, supporting his wife who was weeping and could not speak.

The plane crash came just seven weeks after an aircraft operated by another Nigerian airline, Bellview, crashed near Lagos killing all 117 people on board.

The cause of the Bellview crash has not been established and the black boxes have not been found.

Investigators have found the voice and flight data recorders of the Sosoliso plane but have yet to determine the cause of the crash.

The two disasters have shocked Nigeria, where the aviation sector has grown dramatically in the past decade but most of the commercial fleet is second hand and more than 20 years old.

President Olusegun Obasanjo pledged "urgent reform" of the sector on Monday, and suspended two senior officials from the aviation ministry.

He also called an urgent meeting of all state and private bodies involved in the aviation industry, to discuss ways to improve safety.