The Nigerian Air Force, NAF, on Sunday said seven personnel on-board a Beechcraft KingAir B350i aircraft died during the Sunday crash in Abuja.
Recall that the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, had announced the crashing of a military aircraft en route hitting the runway of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, in Abuja.
Taking to his Twitter handle on Sunday, Mr Sirika said the crash “appears to be fatal” but investigations will be launched to ascertain the number of casualties.
He said: “A military aircraft King Air 350 has just crashed short of our Abuja runway after reporting engine failure enroute Minna. It appears to be fatal.
“We should remain calm & wait for the outcome of investigation by the military, while we pray for the departed soul/souls if any.”
Releasing a statement shortly after the crash, the NAF Director of Public Relations and Information, Ibikunle Daramola, all 7 personnel on board died in the crash
He said: “This is to confirm that a Nigerian Air Force (NAF) Beechcraft KingAir B350i aircraft crashed while returning to the Abuja Airport after reporting engine failure enroute Minna.
“First responders are at the scene. Sadly, all 7 personnel on board died in the crash.
“The Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), @CAS_IOAmao, has ordered an immediate investigation into the incident.
“While urging the general public to remain calm & await the outcome of investigation, the CAS, on behalf of all NAF personnel, commiserates with the families of the deceased.”
Meanwhile, A source at the control tower told The Punch on the strict condition of anonymity that the pilot had complained of engine failure barely moments after take-off.
The official said there been regular flights from Abuja to Minna since the abduction of the Kangara students last week.
The source said: “The aircraft was on its way to Minna. Moments after, on getting to Bassa Local Government Area, he informed the control tower that he had experienced an engine failure.
“He was advised to return to the Abuja airport immediately but it crash-landed.”
When asked if the identities of those on board had been ascertained, the official said they were in the process of doing so.
“There have been frequent flights to Niger State since the abduction of the schoolkids. Last week some ministers also flew. Soon, we will know their identities,” he said.