The pilot of the military aircraft, King Air 350, that crashed in Abuja on Sunday had complained of engine failure minutes after take-off, the Punch gathered.
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.”
But DAILY NIGERIAN gathered that six persons were onboard the crashed aircraft, thus: two crew members and four passengers.
The aircraft, a NAF201 B350, was said to be Minna, Niger State-bound when it developed an engine problem around 10:39am.
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.