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Rescue Workers Search for Victims of Nigerian Airliner Crash - 2002-05-04


Rescue workers in the northern Nigerian city of Kano are searching for victims in the wreckage of an airplane that crashed in a densely populated neighborhood Saturday. The airplane, said to be carrying at least 75 people, slammed into a row of houses shortly after taking off from Kano's international airport.

Nigerian authorities say the aircraft was BAC 1-11 jet which was on a domestic flight that had originated in Nigeria's main city, Lagos, earlier Saturday. Officials say it had just taken off from Kano airport when it slammed into several houses in Kano's northern Gwammaja neighborhood and exploded.

The airplane taken off from Kano airport when it crashed. Nigerian officials say it is not yet clear what caused the crash.

Firefighters have been working to douse the flames and evacuate the area around the crash scene, which is about a kilometer from Kano airport.

An official with the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) in Kano, who did not wish to be named, told VOA Saturday there were at least 75 people aboard the aircraft. Other reports have said 105 people were aboard the airplane.

Witnesses say panicked residents have been scouring the neighborhood, looking for relatives believed to be trapped in the debris of homes that were destroyed.

Rescue workers at the scene told journalists about 40 people had been killed on the ground. The figure was not independently confirmed.

EAS is one of several privately-owned domestic airlines that have emerged in Nigeria since the country deregulated its airline industry in the 1980's.

Some of Nigeria's air carriers have been criticized for using older, poorly maintained aircraft. Last month, the government announced a ban on the use of airplanes that are more than 22 years old.

EAS records show the company operates four BAC 1-11's purchased in 1998 and 1999. The British-built twin-engine jets - first produced in the 1960's - are usually capable of carrying 89 passengers and seven crew members. the crash.