Aviation authorities said Thursday that 13 people were confirmed dead in a crash involving an airplane that was to convey the body of former governor of Ondo state, Olusegun Agagu, and sympathizers, from Lagos to Akure, the Ondo state capital, for funeral rites.
A spokesperson for the Ministry of Aviation, Joe Obi, said 20 people - 13 passengers and seven crew members - were on board the aircraft when the accident occurred, and said 13 people were confirmed dead, six injured, and one person unaccounted for.
Early reports suggested fewer fatalities, with claims one of Mr Agagu's sons, who travelled on the plane, was amongst the survivors. That report could not be confirmed as the aviation ministry was yet to release the official record of passengers.
The Accident Investigation Bureau, AIB, which also confirmed the number of casualties, said families of the victims would be contacted first before it released the names on the manifest.
The bureau said those injured were receiving treatment and that it had set up an emergency response centre to attend to families of d victims.
Search and Rescue operations closed at 12.50p.m, while investigation into the accident has begun, the bureau added.
Witnesses say the plane, 5N-BJY, operated by Associated Airlines, had barely taken off from the domestic wing of the Murtala Mohammed Airport, Lagos, when it plunged into an open field near an aviation fuel depot at about 9.30 a.m.
An eye witness said that the aircraft, which was "shaking in the air," nosedived into the ground and exploded about 15 minutes later.
"When I was passing, me and one of my friends, we saw the plane turning in the sky. It looked like the pilot wanted to turn back but there was no power for him to do that," Olayemi Fawole, who works with a limousine bus shuttle at the airport, told PREMIUM TIMES.
"After we saw the head going down, we started running towards that direction. When we went there, the flight has already crashed. We saw one woman trying to pull herself out, she was still alive," Mr. Fawole said, adding that he counted eight corpses.