By Gbenga Olarinoye –
After several hours of search which lasted till the early hours of Saturday, the remains of the three victims of a chartered helicopter belonging to OAS Helicopters which crashed into Oba rock between Ikonifin in Olaoluwa Local Government and Ife-Odan in Ejigbo Local Government Area of Osun state on Friday have been recovered.
It took the combined efforts of the National Emergency Management Agency, (NEMA), Osun State Emergency Management Agency, (OSEMA), the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, the Osun State Youth Empowerment Scheme (OYES), the Nigeria Police and the Osun State Fire Service to recover the remains of the victims.
The victims of the accident are the chairman/chief executive of Bacita Sugar Company, Mrs Josephine Kuteji, her Personal Assistant, Mrs Adedoyin Ogunbanjo and the expatriate pilot.
The helicopter had taken off from Maryland Lagos terminal of OAS irline took off at the domestic wing of the Muritala Muhammed Airport, Ikeja, Lagos enroute Ilorin when it crashed into the rock at about 9.55 in the morning.
The South West Zonal Co-ordinator of NEMA, Mr. Ishaya Isah Choloko attributed the crash to poor visibility occasioned by bad weather.
Choloko who put the crash point at over 2,500ft above sea level noted that the residents of Ife-Odan said that it was difficult to see objects within 100m range even at ground level on the day of the incidence saying that absolute poor visibility enveloped the entire rocky region. The inability of the copter, flown visually by a Phillipino and with registration number 5N-BKA to fly high, was said to have taken it out of radar coverage.
Managing Director of OSEMA, Segun Ajayi, disclosed that his agency got to know about the incident at about 6.00 pm, and his men and others commenced a search for the location.
According to him, the search team was able to get to the spot at about 1.00 am yesterday and recovered the remains of the deceased later in the morning.
The remains of Mrs. Kuteji and her Personal Assistant were handed over to their families at about 2.00pm at the Ife-Odan police station while those of the expatriate were expected to be collected by his company later in the day.
Meanwhile, investigation has begun into the cause of the crash.
Aviation Minister, Stella Oduah, who spoke yesterday, said investigation has begun to ascertain the cause of the mishap.
In a release by her SA Media, Joe Obi, the minister, while condoling with the families of the victims, said the investigation is to prevent re-occurence.
”Since assumption of office barely a month, the minister has been working hard to ensure safety of the country’s airspace”, the statement said.