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Minister of Defence Maj.-Gen. Bashir Magashi has described the crash of the Nigerian Air Force King 350 plane as a national disaster.
Gen. Magashi, in a statement by his Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mohammad Abdulkadri, yesterday in Abuja, said he was pained by the tragic accident, adding that the death was an unfortunate depletion of the national human capital asset.
Gen. Magashi said the death of the officers and airmen in the line of duty would never be forgotten in the annals of the military’s efforts to end the nation’s insecurity.
The minister commiserated with President Muhammadu Buhari, the nation and Nigerian Air Force in particular, as well as the families of those who paid the supreme price while serving the nation.
He prayed for the repose of the souls of the deceased and the fortitude to bear the national calamity.
The military has cleared the scene of the air crash involving a NAF aircraft, Beechcraft KingAir BB305i in Bassa, a community close to the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja. According to residents of Bassa, the military were at the scene to clear the debris.
When The Nation visited the site yesterday, there were still traces of substances that appeared like burnt skin, logo of NAF suspected to be attached to one of the personnel’s cap, bolt, screws and other burnt particles. Scavengers were also on site picking the remains that were left.
One of the workers at a block industry close to the site of the crash, Benjamin Kefas, said he assisted the military in clearing the debris.
Kefas said: “They came around 11pm to pack the remaining particles of the crashed aircraft. They came with truck to pack what was remaining from the scene.
“After packing it, they removed the tape that was used to mark the area to prevent people from getting close and left with their dogs and their personnel. I assisted them in packing some components of the aircraft into the truck they brought.”
Describing how the crash occurred, another resident, Anthony Bala said: “The pilot really tried and I will say he is a hero. I could sense that he was struggling as the aircraft was going up and down. I think he was trying to ensure that the plane lands on a place that was not residential or crowded.”