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Nigeria: Plane crashes after takeoff from Lagos

Thursday - 10/3/2013, 10:10am  ET

LAGOS, Nigeria (AP) -- A chartered airplane crashed into the bush and burst into flames minutes after taking off from Lagos airport Thursday, Nigerian officials said.

Officials said there were casualties but refused to confirm reports of several deaths as reporters watched plumes of smoke rising from the site.

Five survivors among 20 passengers have been rushed to the hospital as rescue efforts continued two hours after the crash at 9:20 a.m. (0820 GMT) Thursday morning, Federal Aviation Agency spokesman Yakubu Dati told The Associated Press.

"We have put out the fire and our priority continues to be rescuing survivors," he said.

Police Commissioner Waheed Sanau said the plane was chartered from Associated Airline to fly from Lagos to Akure in Ondo state and crashed into open land near a tollgate shortly after taking off. The tollgate is near a fuel storage depot.

Dati said the plane was a Brazilian-made Embraer-120.

The pilot detected a fault soon after taking off and tried to return to the airport for a crash-landing but did not make it, said another police official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because Lagos airport is not included in his duties.

Nigerian airlines and airports have a notoriously poor safety record.

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