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Nigeria Mourns 106 Killed in Airliner Crash


Rescue workers at the site of a passenger jet crash in the northern Nigerian city of Kano say they expect the death toll to rise. They have recovered the remains of at least 82 people after the plane crashed into a crowded neighborhood shortly after taking off from Kano airport Saturday.

Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo cut short a visit to several southern African nations after getting news of the disaster.

In a broadcast speech, Mr. Obasanjo declared a period of mourning, saying flags across Nigeria would be flown at half staff on Sunday and Monday. He said a full inquiry would be conducted to determine the cause of the crash.

The Nigerian leader put the number of dead at 106, but reports from the scene said the death toll would be much higher.

Nigerian federal aviation authorities say the airplane, a British-built BAC 1-11 twin engine jet, was carrying 69 passengers and seven crew members when it took off from Kano airport on a flight to Nigeria's main city, Lagos. Witnesses say the jet was on fire and crashed shortly after take-off, hitting several buildings in a working class neighborhood near the Kano airport.

The dead include Nigerian Sports Minister Ishaya Mark Aku, who was aboard the flight. Kano State Health Commissioner Mansur Kabir told journalists Sunday the minister's body was one of those recovered and identified.

Operations resumed at daybreak Sunday, as workers tried to find more bodies they believe are trapped under the wreckage. Efforts had to be stopped at nightfall Saturday due to a general power outage. Much of Kano has been without electricity for two days for reasons not related to the crash.

The Kano state government planned to carry out a mass burial Sunday.

The crash was Nigeria's worst air disaster since 1996, when a Boeing 727 jet, operated by the privately-owned ADC Airlines, went down near Lagos, killing 142 people.

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