PUBLISHED: 06:44 EST, 5 June 2012 | UPDATED: 09:44 EST, 5 June 2012
- A Connecticut couple and their four children were killed
- Two sisters from Texas also lost their lives
- The pilot of the ill-fated flight was from the U.S. according to Nigerian officials
- Flight operator Dana Air investigating cause with U.S. officials and Nigerian government
An American family of six were among those who died in the Nigerian plane crash which claimed 153 lives.
Maimuna Anyene from West Hartford, Connecticut was with her Nigerian husband Onyeke and their four young children when the plane came down in the country’s capital Lagos on Sunday.
The children were Noah, aged 5 months, one-year-old twins Kaiyen and Kaima and Kamsi, three, the children’s godmother, Mari Sifo told local news.
Tragedy: Maimuna Anyene, pictured with three-year-old Kamsi (left) and her twins Kaiyen and Kaima, three, while pregnant with Noah, aged five months when he died
Tributes: Mrs Anyene was described by neighbours as a vibrant woman who was always smiling
They were on their way to Mrs Anyene’s brothers wedding, Sifo said.
As news of their deaths spread round their home town of West Hartford, Connecticut, neighbours gathered at their Park Place Circle house laying flowers and struggling to come to terms with the tragedy, The Hartford Courant reported.
Mrs Anyene was described as an educated, vibrant woman who was always smiling. The family were well known in their neighbourhood.
Struggle: Neighbours gathered to lay flowers and candles, in memory of the family as they comforted one another
Touching: The soft toys left outside the house are a poignant reminder of the young lives that were lost
The crash also claimed the lives of Josephine and Jennifer Onita from Missouri City, Texas. The sisters who were also on their way to Lagos for a wedding.
Their older sister Christiana Onita-Olojo said: ‘Josephine always made people laugh. Jennifer is sweet. These are angels.’
Disaster: Details of the passengers and crew on the plane which crashed into a poor residential area of Lagos in Nigeria are now starting to emerge
Carnage: People watch as a crane lifts the tail of the plane that crashed at Iju-Ishaga neighbourhood in Lagos
Jennifer, 28, was a electrical engineering graduate and Josephine, 23, was an accountancy manager for the family business.
Following the air tragedy, which saw the passenger plane crash into a residential area, Nigeria announced a three-day period of state mourning.
The pilot of the ill-fated plane had sent out emergency signals while nearing the runway, indicating a technical problem.
The Boeing MD-83 plane, belonging to Dana Air, an Indian-owned company, went down near the airport shortly afterwards.
Devastating: A white, noxious cloud rose from the crash site that burned onlookers’ eyes, seen here carrying a hose to help firefighters’ rescue efforts
In pieces: Onlookers survey the rubble and remains of the crash in urban Lagos, Nigeria
Authorities believe many people on the ground may have been killed besides all 153 passengers and crew on board.
A statement from Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan said he ‘prays that God Almighty will grant the families of the victims of the plane crash the courage and fortitude to bear their irreparable loss’.
The aircraft appeared to have landed on its belly into the dense neighborhood that sits along the approach path taken by aircraft heading into Lagos’ Murtala Muhammed International Airport.
The plane tore through roofs, sheared a mango tree and rammed into a woodworking studio, a printing press and at least two large apartment buildings in the neighborhood before stopping.
A white, noxious cloud rose from the crash site that burned onlookers’ eyes, as pieces of the plane lay scattered around the muddy ground.
Distressing: Smoke pours from the wreckage of the plane after it crashed into the building, killing at least 140
The flight disappeared from radar screens on Sunday one minute after declaring the emergency at 3.43pm local time an aviation ministry statement said.
At the crash site in Lagos’ Iju-Ishaga neighborhood, about five miles from Lagos airport, local residents carried fire hoses, trying an extinguish the plane’s burning fuselage.
The major challenges of life in oil-rich Nigeria quickly became apparent as there wasn’t any water to put out the flames more than three hours later.
This morning the difficulties continued as a torrential downpour and strong winds prevented emergency crews from returning to the devastated neighborhood where the airliner crashed.
Horror: Witnesses and relatives react with visible distress at the scene of the crash
Dana, which began operating in 2008, issued a statement following the crash specifying that the plane was carrying 146 passengers and seven crew.
The airline’s website said today that all flights had been suspended.
Dana Air have also announced the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority is leading the crash investigation with help from the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board.
Harold Demuren, the director-general of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, said today the pilot of the downed aircraft was an American and the co-pilot was Indian.
Chinese officials have said six of its nationals were on the plane and France said that one of its nationals, a woman, was on the flight.