From: Frank Warren <frank-warren.nul> Date: Mon, 02 Feb 2004 07:16:56 -0800 Fwd Date: Mon, 02 Feb 2004 16:21:08 -0500 Subject: Rescuers Doubt Nigerian 'Crash' Plane Existed Source: Airwise News http://news.airwise.com/stories/2004/02/1075715154.html Rescuers Doubt Nigerian "Crash" Plane Existed February 2, 2004 Rescue workers in Nigeria have found no trace of a light aircraft that witnesses reported seeing crash into the ocean on Friday and now doubt whether there was a plane at all, officials said. Search operations were halted after local rescue workers and the South Africa-based Critical Rescue International searched in vain under the waves on Saturday for bodies and wreckage. "We are tired of looking at water. We are now convinced that there was no plane crash," Emmanuel Ijewere, president of the Nigerian Red Cross said. Witnesses said on Friday that they saw a small plane wobble in the air for several minutes, before crashing into the ocean where it submerged completely. But Nigeria's Aviation Ministry said that after conducting a series of checks with relevant bodies, it still had no lead on the reported crash. Air traffic controllers in Lagos had no knowledge of the plane's presence at the time of the crash. The country's aviation watchdog, the Nigeria Aviation Safety Initiative (NASI), said on Sunday the crashed object had been classified as an Unidentified Flying Object (UFO). Captain Jerry Agbeyegbe, executive director of NASI, urged the government to intensify the search with more sophisticated equipment to determine the veracity of the witnesses' claims. "Certainly an object was sighted crashing into the ocean, we have termed it for now as a UFO," Agbeyegbe said. "We have advised government to intensify (the) search until we are absolutely sure that it was not a plane." Industry experts have blamed the mystery on the deplorable state of aviation in the world's seventh largest oil exporter. Nigeria's worst air crash in the past 20 years occurred in November 1996, when a Boeing 727 flying from Port Harcourt to Lagos crashed, killing all 142 passengers and nine crew. In May 2002, a BAC 1-11-500 operated by EAS Airlines crashed in the northern city of Kano, killing more than 100 people on board an on the ground.
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