ACCRA: A Boeing 727 cargo plane attempting to land at the international airport in Ghana's capital crashed Saturday, slamming into a bus loaded with passengers on a nearby street, killing all 10 people inside the vehicle, emergency responders and airport officials said.
The crash occurred in Accra near Kotoka International Airport, which sits near newly built high-rise buildings and hotels. Witnesses said the plane first smashed through the fence that runs around the airport before hitting the bus.
Local television showed images of the plane lying across a road with its tail damaged as the flight crew jumped off and received help from emergency responders. Police and soldiers quickly cordoned off the neighborhood where the plane crashed.
Billy Anaglate, spokesman for the Ghana Fire Service, said that all 10 passengers in the bus were killed on impact. The plane's four crew members survived the crash and were rushed to a local hospital for treatment.
''What happened is that the Allied (Air) Cargo plane, actually I was told, was traveling from Nigeria to Ghana. At the landing it was short of the boundary, and it went off onto the roadside. It crashed into a bus,'' said Anaglate, who was reached by telephone late Saturday.
''... (The plane) broke the barrier and went onto the road and hit the vehicle and unfortunately in the vehicle everyone ended up dying. The poor people were killed.''
Doreen Owusu Fianko, the chief executive of the Ghana Airport Co., said that operations at the airport had returned to normal after the crash Saturday. Fianko, who addressed reporters at a press conference hours after the accident, said the plane was coming from Lagos, the commercial capital of Nigeria, when it crashed after a failed landing attempt.
Witnesses said the plane was labeled as belonging to Allied Air Cargo, a fact confirmed by Anaglate. The name and symbols on the aircraft matched those of the Nigerian air freight company based out of Lagos. Telephone numbers for the company in London, Lagos and the Nigerian city of Port Harcourt rang unanswered Saturday night.
Ghana, a nation of more than 25 million in West Africa, has not had a major airplane crash in recent years. The last air emergency the country had was in June 2006, when a TAAG Linhas Aereas De Angola flight to Sao Tome hit birds during takeoff. The plane landed safely and none of the 28 people onboard were injured.
Ghana's Vice President John Dramani Mahama ordered aviation officials to launch an investigation.
''I urge you to conduct preliminary investigations as early as possible,'' Mahama said in front of reporters at a news conference Saturday. ''And no early conclusions should be drawn to the cause of the accident,'' Mahama added.