On October 29th, 2006, a Boeing 737 operated by ADC Airlines crashed near the Abuja airport shortly after takeoff, claiming so many lives. The flight carrying 100 passengers and five crew members departed Lagos to Sokoto with an intermediate stop in Abuja. Shortly after take off from the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, the plane crashed, broke up and caught fire in a corn field. 96 people died, including a woman working on the field, who was reportedly killed after being struck by debris from the crash.
In this piece, Esther Kemmer Amoda, now Esther Longe, one of the survivors of the ADC plane crash recounts her experience. Esther narrated how the crash happened, how she narrowly survived, and what it felt like seeing the bones of those who didn’t survive.
According to her, she was in Abuja waiting for a return flight to Sokoto where she was doing her NYSC with the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria as a duty flight announcer. As they were about to board the plane, the weather changed drastically and it started to rain.
She said she remembers wondering if the pilot can fly in such weather. On the plane, she was sitting in the middle, something she says is unusual as she’s used to sitting in front.
Before take off, she said she heard someone call her full name and she wondered who could know her that well. When she looked behind her, it was Esther Jeyibo, an airline staff who she knows from working at the Airport.
She said she left her seat and moved to the seat beside Esther Jeyibo at the rear of the plane. Shortly after takeoff, she explained that the aircraft dipped and people began praying and calling on God but they didn’t think it was anything more than usual turbulence.
She said not long after, it dipped again and Christians started calling on Jesus, Muslims on Allah, and children were crying, calling on their parents.
At this point, the plane’s emergency light came on as everywhere was dark even though it was just 11 in the morning.
She said she still assumed it was normal turbulence. Shortly after, she said she heard a loud bang like in the “cartoons” and looked out of the plane. When she looked in front of her, she saw a patch of grass, rather than the rest of the plane.
She explained that she was still in her seat on the plane, and her safety belt was still in place but she was on the floor of a field and it was raining heavily. She reached under her seat for her bag and then removed her seat belt then looked around. She heard a cry then and realised it was the other Esther. The impact had flung her in a different direction.
She said she went to get her and helped remove her seat belt but Esther had suffered an injury. She said that as they walked, they saw a few other survivors, most of whom were injured and too shocked to move. She narrated how she saw three sisters laying on top of each other and the one on top was trapping the other two beneath. She said they turned out to be the daughters of the Kogi State Governor.
She helped free them while still trying to make sense of what had happened. She also told of how she saw a woman crying, looking for her brother who had been sitting in front of the plane with other men, as is the tradition of the Muslims, for men to seat separated from the women. She said she assured the woman that her brother must be safe with the other half of the plane but didn’t know at the time that the only part of the plane that had survivors was the tail end they were on. The other part of the plane was just debris and human bones as it had burst into flames.
She explained that locals then came to the field. It was still raining. They then informed them that they were just outside the airport and the plane had crashed shortly after take-off. Other locals had gone to the airport to get a shuttle that came to pick those who could walk to the airport hospital.
Esther said that while she was at the hospital, she desperately wanted to leave the airport so she called her friends who took her to a private hospital. For this reason, as she was not accounted for at first, she was initially reported amongst the dead, until she returned to the hospital later when she realised the impression her absence had given.
She explained that of the 105 people on board, 9 survived, only one was without injury. She was the one without injury. She went on the narrate the bible verse she read that morning and how it spoke about man being vapour that could be gone any minute. She said she realised that if she had remained on her given seat, she would have died as only those at the tail end of the plane, starting from where she was seated, survived the crash.
As stated earlier, the ADC plane crash Esther survived occurred on October 29th, 2006. It was a Boeing 737 operated by ADC Airlines. It claimed many lives, including that of the then Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammadu Maccido, his Senator son, Alhaji Badamasi Maccido as well as Sokoto Deputy Governor, Alhaji Garba Muhammed. The flight, carrying 100 passengers and 5 crew members, departed Lagos to Sokoto with an intermediate stop in Abuja.