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Families receive remains of crashed Beechcraft victims

By John IGHODARO, Calabar
The remains of the victims of the ill-fated Wings Aviation Beechcraft 1900D, which crashed into the hills of Busi Village on 15 March, 2008 while flying from Lagos to the Bebi Air Strip have been returned by the Accident Investigation Bureau(AIB).  
The remains that were given to their families are those of the pilot, Capt. Augustine Egbedi, his co-pilot, Mohammed Tango, and a Standardisation Officer, Miss Fubrata Jack.

Daughter of the deceased pilot, Tamara Egbedi and Mohammed Tongo, father of the deceased co-pilot, Ahmed Tongo were in Calabar with some of their relatives to receive the bodies.. Tongo said the remains of his son will be buried same day in Calabar. The relatives of Jack are being expected in Calabar too.

Briefing newsmen in Calabar to mark the event,  the Commissioner AIB Engr. Sam Oduselu said the remains of the victims of the crashed aircraft had to be returned to the families after a pathologist in the University of Calabar  carried out autopsy on the bones.

Oduselu who was represented by Tunji Oketumbi  said, “The aircraft with registration number 5N-JAH was, discovered on 30 August, 2008 following which the Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB) commenced investigations on 03 September, 2008.

The interim report is already released and posted on our website.
“In the course of the investigation vital components needed for the investigation were recovered along with the remains (mainly bones) of the male flight crew members and a female passenger on duty.

“The pathologists from University of Calabar Teaching Hospital conducted autopsy on the bones and were able to identify the bones. However, for scientific confirmation the bones were sent to a laboratory in South Africa for DNA analysis. Unfortunately the laboratory despite numerous extraction procedure and cultures could not generate any DNA_profile of the bone material good enough for use of identification. The bones were said to have been severely damaged in the crash..

“With determination to get scientific confirmation, Health Sciences Authority of Singapore agreed to do analysis for us. Again, after a lot of efforts they could not generate any positive DNA result.

“With this development we needed to close the investigation and conclude the process of releasing the final report of the investigation into the accident. The absence of the DNA result however does not have any negative effect on our investigations. It should be noted that the pathologists have already positively identified the bones while the laboratory analysis was for scientific confirmation.

“We are here today to hand_over the remains to the families of the deceased to enable them render their customary obligations to their loved ones. The representatives of the families are with us here today.

“The President and Commander_in_Chief and the Honourable Minister of Aviation send their condolences to the families”.

In her own remark, daughter of the deceased pilot said, “There is nothing worse than you not burying your dead. Despite almost getting to two years, this has been successful and the families are happy.

“I am taking the body back to my village in Delta state, because my dad is a respectable chief. He has to be buried properly. We thank God that we have finally closed this chapter and I commend the Accident Investigation Bureau for the work they have done.”

For Tongo, father of deceased co_pilot Ahmed Tongo , “I am not satisfied. They were damn too slow. The delay was so much. But there is nothing we can do. Now is the final stage and we are okay. When I collect the remains today, we are going to bury it here. We have already arranged with the Muslim community here. We would bury the remains here and then go back home to Gombe.”


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