Dana crash: Pathologist says most victims died of smoke inhalation

Channels Television  
Updated July 25, 2012

The Chief Medical Examiner of Lagos State and a consultant forensic pathologist, Prof. John Oladapo Obafunwa has informed the Coroner of Alimosho District in Lagos state, Magistrate Oyetade Komolafe, that the result of the DNA tests on the bodies of some of the crash victims will be ready next week.

Mr Komolafe is conducting an inquest on the cause of the June 3, 2012 fatal Dana plane crash that occurred at Iju-Ishaga area of  Lagos state

Prof Obafunwa gave this information while testifying at the inquest on Wednesday.

According to him the chemical analysis of the samples and tissues taken from the bodies of the victims is almost concluded.

The witness further said, there are reasons to believe that some victims of the  crash were alive in the fire. He said most of the victims had died from smoke inhalation.

“They must have been alive to inhale the smoke,” Prof Obafunwa said.

He stated that there was a remote possibility that such victims would have made it, depending on the degree of injuries sustained.

While being cross-examined in an intense, but somber session, the pathologist identified the major cause of death of the crash victims as multiple injuries.

He said that multiple injuries roughly caused about 60 percent of the deaths, and that a combination of multiple injuries and smoke inhalation was responsible for 30 percent, while the remainder “ranged from purely smoke inhalation to just occasional fractures.”

The witness further stated that at the moment, the pathology department was doing a final editing of post-mortem reports and ‘’I am expecting that the DNA results will be finalised next week.

He said ‘’I will say we have completed our job on the average 80 per cent of the job is ready.’’

Prof Obafunwa, while been led in evidence by, a counsel from the state’s Ministry of Justice, Akingbolahan Adeniran, said that when the body bags containing the remains of the victims were opened at the morgue, some of them contained only bone fragments while some still had body parts.

He also told Magistrate Komolafe that the pathology department was able to identify about 152 bodies, either complete or partially.

Prof Obafunwa pointed out that 60 per cent of the crash victims had multiple injuries while about 20 per cent had multiple injuries and smoke inhalation.

According to him, ‘’fifty bodies were fairly complete; about 100 victims were burnt while there were also charred bodies. There are bodies with recognisable heads and some their limbs are chopped off. ‘’

Prof Obafunwa, while being questioned by some lawyers suggested that the Federal Government should set up a Mass Disaster Committee comprising all the various rescue agencies in the country.

He said by so doing, the body would be able to mitigate future disasters in the country.

During the day’s proceedings an official of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Adebiyi Babatunde Razaq, told the coroner that the agency has only one rescue plane domiciled in Abuja.

Razaq, who is an Assistant Zonal Coordinator of NEMA in South-West, also informed the coroner that the large crowd, lack of easy access and the raging fire were some of the challenges the agency confronted in its efforts at rescuing the victims of the crash.

“We have challenges in getting access to the crash site. The road was narrow. We had to enter through the rail lines. The crowd and the road access were the challenges we faced. The equipment we brought could also not get to the crash site,” Razaq stated.

In his own testimony, a police detective, Obono Ubi, faulted the claim that fire fighters got to the scene of Dana plane crash on time.

Ubi, an Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP), attached to Area G command, Ogba, Lagos, said fire fighters did not get to the crash site until two hours after the incident.

He also faulted the claim that the explosion that greeted the crash was extinguished within 15 minutes, saying it took about four hours before the fire could be doused.

Ubi, who said he got to the scene of the crash at 3.50p.m, told the coroner that the casualty figure could have been averted if the police have fire-fighting equipment as they got information on the crash earlier than any other response agency.

“For over one hour, nobody could penetrate the fire. If fire brigade was under police custody and we have fire-fighting equipment, we could have acted faster. It was not until after two hours that the fire fighters came,” Ubi said.

A mild drama was however, introduced into the inquest, as a police officer, Mr. Olusola Agoyi was reprimanded for lying on oath.

Agoyi, a Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) and second-in-command at the state Criminal Investigation Department (SCID), Panti, had told the court the disposition he signed and presented to the inquest was not written by him.

The coroner had asked Agoyi to read his disposition, which contradicted his oral evidence that he was sent to the scene of the crash only to observe and not to investigate while in his disposition he said he was sent there to investigate.

“I did not write this. The lawyer did. That is the truth,” he said.

But the coroner fumed saying he had lied on oath as that was not what he disposed to before the Commissioner for Oath.

The inquest continues on Thursday July 26, 2012.