A small Nigerian air force passenger plane has crashed just outside Abuja airport after reporting engine failure, killing all seven people on board.
The plane – a Beechcraft King Air 350i – was on its way on Sunday to the city of Minna, 110 kilometres north-west of the capital, air force spokesman Ibikunle Daramole said.
The aircraft “crashed while returning to the Abuja Airport after reporting engine failure”, Daramole said.
“First responders are at the scene. Sadly, all seven personnel on board died in the crash.”
The chief of the air force has ordered an investigation.
President Muhammadu Buhari sent his condolences to the air force and families of the victims, saying he was “deeply saddened by the fatal crash”.
In scrubland just outside the airport perimeter, dozens of military and airport officials picked through the charred remnants of the fuselage as fire engines and ambulances stood by.
The smell of burning chemicals lingered in the air but no fire or smoke were visible. Onlookers watched the rescue efforts from behind a cordon.
“As he (the plane’s pilot) was going down, he struggled to go back to the airport, at the end he just crashed,” said Alaba Lawal, who said she witnessed the accident.
“I just saw the whole thing explode, fire and smoke together … When I got there I saw dead bodies on the ground.”
The air force did not provide the identities of those killed in the crash.
The Beechcraft King Air 350i is a twin-propeller aircraft made by Textron Aviation, a unit of the US-based Textron Inc conglomerate. The model was first released about 2009.
The company said in a statement that it had been notified of the accident, which it said was being investigated by Nigeria’s Aircraft Investigation Bureau and the US National Transportation Safety Board.
“As a party to the investigation, the company is prohibited by NTSB regulation from divulging any information about the accident or investigation,” the company said.