Five passengers, including the General Manager, Corporate Affairs, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Dr. Levi Ajuonuma, who died on the Dana Air flight that crashed in Lagos on Sunday, were not originally on the passengers’ list, The PUNCH investigation has shown.
Ajuonuma and the four other victims bought the tickets of passengers that did not make it to the airport for the departure of the ill-fated aircraft.
Dana Station Manager at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport, Abuja, Mr. Ade Kayode, confirmed that the late NNPC spokesman and the others travelled in place of those who did not make it to join the flight.
Kayode said, “You know so many people buy tickets online. So there were many passengers that bought tickets online that could not show up. Their tickets were sold to passengers that wanted to travel. Levi Ajuonuma was among them.
“Unfortunately I cannot give you the names of those that did not show up because they are no longer on our system. However, any passenger that bought the ticket but could not travel can come forward for refund because they did not use their tickets.”
He said the names of all the passengers that eventually travelled were put on the manifest.
When reminded that the manifest had the names of 146 passengers while the aircraft had capacity for only 140 passengers, he said that 140 passengers were adults while the remaining six were infants that travelled in company with adults.
The disclosures came amid denial by the Ministry of Aviation that the airspace was closed against the crashed plane in order to facilitate President Goodluck Jonathan’s wife’s movement on Sunday.
Meanwhile, the National Emergency Management Agency said on Tuesday that it had stopped further search for bodies at the crash site.
Spokesman for NEMA in the Lagos zone, Ibrahim Farinloye, said the agency was satisfied that it had recovered all it could for the time being. He added that the stoppage would pave the way for the Accident Investigation Bureau to take over and conduct investigations into the causes of the crash and how a reoccurrence could be prevented.
He said, “From our records, we have 86 males, 49 females and 12 children. We have yet to determine the sex of the remaining corpses. Out of these 153 bodies, only 40 were identifiable; we have to do what we call Disaster Victim Identification on the rest.”
Farinloye added that the corpses had been taken to the mortuary at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital to allow their relations to have access to them for burial.
He said NEMA would still be at the site to assess the level of danger that the crash posed to the community.
“We are not ruling out fumigation of entire area. There will also be counselling of the victims’ relatives and we have to find a way of rehabilitating internally displaced persons,” the NEMA spokesperson said.
He added that property belonging to 24 of the victims had been identified and tagged. He said the property were bags, identification cards, BlackBerries, Ipads, laptops and foreign currencies among others.
Farinloye explained that five families were affected in the two storey building that was hit by the plane. He said one of the flats was unoccupied.
“We learnt that the tenant moved out of the apartment on Sunday morning, a few hours before the crash,” he said.