A military aircraft has crashed just outside the airport after reporting engine failure on Sunday, killing all seven people on board.
The plane, a Beechcraft King Air 350i, was on its way to the city of Minna, 110 kilometres (68 miles) northwest of the capital, air force spokesman Ibikunle Daramola said in a statement.
The aircraft “crashed while returning to the Abuja Airport after reporting engine failure”, said Daramola. “First responders are at the scene. Sadly, all 7 personnel on board died in the crash.”
President Muhammadu Buhari in a statement sent his condolences to the air force and families of the victims, stating that he was “deeply saddened by the fatal crash”.
In scrubland just outside the airport perimeter, dozens of military and airport officials picked through the charred remnants of the fuselage as fire engines and ambulances stood by.
The smell of burning chemicals lingered in the air but no fire or smoke were visible. Onlookers watched the rescue efforts from behind a cordon.
“As he (the plane’s pilot) was going down, he struggled to go back to the airport, at the end he just crashed,” said Alaba Lawal, who said she witnessed the accident.
“I just saw the whole thing explode, fire and smoke together… When I got there I saw dead bodies on the ground,” she added.
The air force did not provide the identities of those killed in the crash.
The chief of the air force has reportedly ordered an investigation into the accident.