Disaster In The Skies

Fatal Air Crashes Recorded Over The Weekend

by Jerry Chiemeke

Disaster In The Skies

If the belief in Greek mythology was a widespread phenomenon, then people would have asked what possibly angered Zeus, god of the sky, to have caused so much carnage in the air over the past few days. It was a tumultuous weekend in aviation as three planes crashed, killing people aboard, in separate incidents in Ethiopia, Colombia and the United States.

An Ethiopian Airlines flight crashed on Sunday March 10, minutes after taking off from Addis Ababa. Flight ET302, which was heading from the Bole International Airport in the Ethiopian capital to Nairobi, Kenya, lost contact at 8:44 a.m. local time (6:44 a.m. Nigerian time) -- six minutes after taking off. The plane was a Boeing 737 MAX 8, which had been delivered to the airline in November.

Debris from the mangled aircraft | Photo Credit: Sky News

"As it is a fresh incident, we have not been able to determine the cause. As I said, it is a brand new airplane with no technical remarks, flown by a senior pilot and there is no cause that we can attribute at this time," said Tewolde GebreMariam, Ethiopian Airlines CEO.

He told reporters the pilot reported technical difficulties after takeoff and asked for clearance to return to Addis Ababa. He was given clearance to turn back, GebreMariam said, citing the air traffic controllers' record.

It's the deadliest airplane crash since an Indonesian Lion Air jet crashed soon after takeoff from Jakarta in 2018 -- killing 189 people. That plane was also a Boeing 737 MAX 8. There is no suggestion yet as to what caused the latest disaster, and no evidence that the two incidents are linked in causality.

Nigerian columnist and literary critic, Pius Adesanmi, was among the people confirmed to have perished in the air crash. Before his death, Adesanmi was a professor of English at Carleton University, Canada. He was also the author of the satirical book "Naija Nor Dey Carry Last."

Professor Pius Adesanmi | Photo Credit: Radio-Canada.ca

A plane in Colombia crashed on Saturday March 9, killing at least 12 people, according to Colombia's Civil Defense. The flight took off from San Jose del Guaviare and was headed to Villavicencio. The plane called in an emergency at 10:40 a.m. local time and was later found in La Bendición, near Villavicencio, officials said. The cause of the crash is unknown.

In a non-fatal incident on Saturday, at least 30 people suffered minor injuries when a Turkish Airlines flight encountered severe turbulence before landing at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport. The injured were taken to hospitals and their wounds consisted mostly of bumps, bruises and cuts, said Port Authority spokesman Steve Coleman. The Turkish Airlines Flight 001, which had departed from Istanbul, hit major turbulence about 45 minutes before landing at JFK. The plane, a Boeing 777, arrived at JFK at 5:35 p.m. ET.

An Air Transat flight made an emergency landing at Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey after reports of a possible fire in the cargo hold, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.Passengers on board the Boeing 737 had to evacuate onto the airport's runway using emergency slides, according to FAA spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen. Flight TS942 had been flying from Montreal to Fort Lauderdale, when the pilot around 8:20 a.m. local time on Saturday requested an emergency landing, saying there was smoke in the aircraft. Two minor injuries were reported, but they were unrelated to the smoke.

Five people died when a small airplane fell into a Florida lake on Friday March 8, according to the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office. Their bodies were found in the aircraft fuselage, according to the sheriff's office. The twin-engine Piper aircraft went down in Lake Okeechobee at approximately 3:30 p.m. local time, while on approach to Pahokee Airport, according to the Federal Aviation Administration. The plane fell about 400 yards from shore and had departed from Tampa International Airport, the FAA said. The investigation will be handled by the FAA and National Transportation Safety Board.

While investigation is being carried out and calls are made for an inquest, our hearts go out to the families of the deceased, and we hope that they find strength in these trying times.