Saturday, January 19, 2013

‘Bodies of Dana Pilots Lost In Crash inferno’

The bodies of the two pilots of Dana Air’s MD-83 plane which crashed in Iju-Ishaga area of Lagos State on June 3, 2012 were not found as they might have been completely incinerated by the post-crash inferno. The Chief Medical Examiner and Consultant Pathologist of the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, Prof. John Obafunwa, said this in his testimony at a Lagos State coroner court sitting in Ikeja on Friday.
The American pilot, Mr. Peter Waxtan, 55, and his Indian co-pilot, Mr. Mahendra Rathore, 34, were among the six crew members of the plane; 147 passengers and uncertain number of others on the ground, who were killed in the crash.
Obafunwa, who coordinated series of post-mortem tests, apart from the DNA analysis, on the bodies recovered from the crash site, said a total of nine persons among the 153 persons aboard the plane, could not be identified.
He said, “I had a manifest of 153 persons. Out of the 153, we were able to identify 144, leaving nine.
“I must say from the manifest, at the end of the day, we could not identify the bodies of the pilot and the co-pilot and that was after exhaustive deliberation and consultation.
“Bodies of other crew members were identified.”
He said apart from Waxtan and Rathore, who were certain to be on the plane, the other seven names of passengers on the manifest whose bodies were not found might actually not have boarded the plane.
He said among the 148 bodies identified with their names, three of them, through the DNA analysis carried out on the bodies in the United Kingdom, were discovered to be among the bodies of those who died on the ground.
He, however, told the court presided over by Mr. Oyetade Komolafe that the bodies of other crew members, apart from those of Waxtan and Rathore, were identified.
Obafunwa, who was appearing before the coroner court for the second time to give a report of the DNA analysis on the victims of the crash, said his team received 152 body bags from the crash site.
Led in evidence by the counsel for the state’s Attorney-General, Akinjide Bakare, the pathologist said three unidentified bodies were still being kept in the mortuary.
Giving insight into why the bodies could not be identified, Obafunwa, who is also the Chief Medical Director of LASUTH, said some of the bodies were so burnt that blood and urine could not be extracted from them for certain tests.
Oyetade adjourned till January 25 for lawyers representing other parties to cross-examine the pathologist.
Punch Nigeria

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