Following the clash-landing of Max Air aircraft carrying 144 passengers and six crew members at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja yesterday after the tyre reportedly burst into flames, many passengers were left stranded at airports across the country.
Passengers coming into Abuja or leaving Abuja were stranded as the runway was closed after the incident.
One of the passengers stranded in Kano who spoke through his twitter handle @Kalifarabiu said, “Max Air crash-lands in Abuja Airport. The planes tyres are reported to have burst into flames upon landing on the tarmac.
“All flights to Abuja have either been canceled or delayed. I myself am currently stranded in the Aminu Kano Airport with no news from the airline after canceling yesterday’s flight without notifying us. No texts, no emails.”
Another passenger, Mohammed Jammal @whitenigerian, said, “A plane crash-landed at Abuja Airport after the tyre blew up after takeoff from Yola. All passengers are safe and have been disembarked. Alhamdulilah.”
Also, Aliyu Gidado @allyhanson said, “Why will Abuja, the capital city, have only one runway for God’s sake? Upon the billions spent at that airport. Now, Max Air crash landed, and it has blocked the runway. Flights aren’t landing or taking off. Does this make sense at all?
Chibuike Ejikeme @Chbyk228 said, “I am actually here live waiting to board an aircraft back to Lagos but now this…It is very unfortunate that Almighty Abuja Airport that is over 40 years old has only one runway. Who did offend as human beings living in this space called Nigeria?”
LEADERSHIP recalls that the federal government had in March 2022 approved N92.123 billion for the construction of a second runway at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja.
Minister of aviation, Hadi Sirika, who announced the development then, had also insisted that the runway would be completed before May 29, 2023. He said the entire sum would be spread over a number of projects to be carried out at the airport.
Earlier report had stated that the aircraft had arrived in Abuja from Yola, Adamawa State when the incident happened at about 2:50pm.
One of the investigators who spoke to LEADERSHIP in confidence, said: “The aircraft, B737, with Aircraft Reg. No. 5N-MBD crash-landed at about 2:50pm. The cause of incident is suspected to be faulty engine and burst of landing gears and the number of passengers on board is 144 and six crew members.”
Former president of the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA), Dr. Mike Ogirima, who also gave an account of the incident, said the tyre burst occurred after takeoff at Yola Airport.
However, the aircraft crash-landed in Abuja with emergency officials already on ground to put off the fire before the passengers disembarked right at the runway.
“We thank God. We are still on the runway and the pilot has reassured us. He has called for the stairs and we are now disembarking from the runway to be evacuated to the airport building at the arrival hall.
“We bless God because we had witnessed the pull-out of the tyre right from the airport in Yola and we went into prayer session. I never announced it so as not to cause any panic, but we bless God,” he said,
The incident was also confirmed by Sam Hart, a former aide to the Governor of Abia state, Okezie Ikpeazu.
Hart tweeted: “Airline (name withheld) had an emergency landing at Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja. Everyone is fine.Flights out of Abuja airport delayed for hours as arrangements are being made to evacuate the aircraft from the tarmac. Good afternoon.”
The runway has been temporarily shut until the evacuation of the aircraft.
The Aerodrome Rescue and Fire-fighting Service (ARFFS) that operates at the airport was swiftly mobilised to put off the fire.
Tunji Oketunbi, general manager, Public Affairs, Nigeria Safety Investigation Bureau (NSIB), said the staff of the agency had gone to the site of the incident for investigation.
An official of the airline who confirmed the incident but pleaded anonymity said the passengers all safely disembarked. He expressed gratitude to God for the safety of all the passengers and crew members.