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Relatives Claim Bodies After Fatal Plane Crash in Nigeria


Relatives of the victims in Saturday's fatal plane crash in Nigeria have begun claiming the bodies of their loved ones at two hospitals in the southern city of Port Harcourt. The crash, the country's the second major airline disaster in two months, has sparked angry reaction among many Nigerians.

Four people who initially survived the crash died Sunday, bringing the death toll from the disaster up to 107.

The bodies of the more than one hundred victims of Saturday's ill-fated Sosoliso Airlines flight were being held at morgues in Braithwaite Memorial Hospital and the University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital.

Sunday morning, family members were already arriving to claim the bodies of lost relatives.

Journalist Aminu Bello Sahibi visited the hospitals early Sunday.

"The relatives, who are there trying to collect the corpses of their relations, they were crying," he said. "They are very much emotional, because in such a tragedy, somebody must have feelings."

Nigerian aviation officials say 103 people died when the flight from the capital Abuja to Port Harcourt crashed attempting to land in bad weather. Around half of those on board were schoolchildren returning home for the Christmas holidays. Officials said Saturday that there were just a handful of survivors.

Saturday's disaster comes less than two months after a Bellview Airlines flight went down shortly after taking off from Lagos, killing 117 people. And two weeks ago, a private plane crashed in Kaduna killing all three people aboard.

Mr. Sahibi says this latest tragedy sparked an immediate reaction from residents of Port Harcourt.

"People were talking bitterly, because, in less than two months, about three times, in Lagos, in Kaduna, in Port Harcourt, people are complaining, how does it happen in such a way? Is there anything behind it? They don't know," said Mr. Sahibi.

Soon after the Bellview crash outside Lagos, Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo promised to strengthen compliance with aircraft maintenance standards.

Saturday's crash was Nigeria's 39th since 1991. Plagued by aging fleets of second-hand aircraft and poor aviation infrastructure, Africa accounts for more than a quarter of the world's fatal crashes despite making up just four percent of air traffic.