(LAGOS, Nigeria) — The American captain of a packed passenger jet that crashed into an apartment building in Nigeria’s largest city called the control tower to report engine failure just minutes before the plane went down Sunday, killing all 153 people on board, according to Nigerian aviation officials.
“The important progress we made in the investigation today was the discovery of the two black boxes in the wreckage, including the cockpit voice recorder,” said Kunji Okecunbi, spokesman for the West African country’s Accident Investigations Bureau.
The MD-83 plane of Dana Air crashed into a building in a densely populated neighborhood in Lagos, Nigeria, near Lagos’ Murtala Muhammaed International Airport on Sunday.
Okecunbi spoke to ABC News on his cellphone from the still-smoldering scene of the wreckage site, where he said he had to cover his nose at times to block the smoke blowing in his direction. Thousands of people were reportedly drawn to the crash, many to help any survivors out of the smoke and burning debris.
The Dana Air plane was reportedly flying from Abuja, the nation’s capital, to Lagos when the accident occurred.
On the first of three official days of mourning in Nigeria, rescue workers used cadaver dogs and cranes to recover bodies. Officials do not yet know how many people were killed on the ground when the plane careened through a church, a textbook printing warehouse, and a two-story apartment complex. Local media report at least 10 casualties on the ground, which would bring the death toll to at least 163.
For a second day, large crowds gathered around the crash site. At one point police used tear gas to keep the crowd from interfering with rescuers’ work. Many of the onlookers were people hoping to locate missing relatives.
Secretary Clinton issued a statement Monday expressing “deep condolences to those who lost family and loved ones.”
State Department Spokesperson confirmed there were several Americans on the flight, but said the Embassy and Consulate in Nigeria are still notifying next of kin. There has been no confirmation yet of how many Americans were killed in the flight.
The cause of Sunday’s crash is still unknown. At the time the aircraft went down, the weather was overcast but there were no storms. Authorities are investigating.
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