John Adams, Minna
What could have been regarded as the worst aviation disaster in recent time was averted in Minna on Saturday when an airliner carrying no fewer than 560 Niger state pilgrims returning from Saudi Arabia made a faulty landing at the Minna airport.
The incident which a source close to the airport in Minna said occurred at about 5 am is the first of such incident to recorded in the airport.
According to our source, the aircraft a Boeing 744 with registration number 5N/ DBK, belonging to Max Airline carrying no fewer than 560 pilgrims, developed a technical fault resulting in its forced landing.
The accident, our source said caused damage to one of the four engines of the aircraft.
Also, part of the tarmac and some materials were damaged by the aircraft which skidded off the runway.
Our source said most of the passengers on board were in shock as they rushed out of the plane as the cause of the accident remained a mystery even to the airport staff.
“I have never seen this type of thing in my life only God saved us from a terrible disaster.
“The fire that would have followed would have spread to all parts of the airport because we don’t have fire fighting vehicles in this airport,” the source a senior official of the airport told our correspondent.
It was gathered that five officials of the Accident Bureau of Investigation from Lagos had arrived at the airport to inspect the partly damaged aircraft.
As at the time of filing this report, officials from the airline and that of the Accident Investigation Bureau were said to be in a closed-door meeting.
Public Relations Officer of the state Pilgrims Welfare Board Hajia Hassana Isah when contacted confirmed the incident, but did not give further details.
Hajia Hassana Isah, however, said the development would not affect the return journey of the over 2000 pilgrims still in Saudi Arabia adding that the deadline for the return journey of the pilgrims would be met.
No official of the airline was available to comment on the issue even when it was reported that the pilot was devastated by the incident.