There was palpable tension as a Nigerian Air Force helicopter crashlanded and exploded at the NAF Base, Port Harcourt.
The incident occurred around 7.50 am on Friday, December 1, 2023. However, what led to the crash could not be ascertained as of the time of writing this report.
A source said, “I was inside my apartment when I heard this thunderous sound at the NAF Base.
“The next thing I saw was a thick flame. I don’t know if there are casualties because I can’t go close to the scene for now. But I heard a blast twice. ”
Confirming the crash in a statement, the NAF Director of Public Relations and Information, Air Commodore Edward Gabkwet, said the NAF MI-35P had taken off to embark on an operation against oil thieves in Rivers State.
He added that five persons on board survived with minor injuries.
The statement read, “A Nigerian Air Force (NAF) MI-35P helicopter has crashed at Port Harcourt today, December 1, 2023. The unfortunate incident occurred at about 7.45 am shortly after the aircraft took off for an operation against economic saboteurs in Rivers State.
” Fortunately, the entire crew of five survived the crash with very minor injuries and are currently being attended to at NAF Medical Centre Port Harcourt.’
He said the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Hasan Abubakar, is on his way to the scene to assess the situation.
“The Chief of Air Staff is currently en route to Port Harcourt to assess the situation for himself, see to the wellbeing of the crew, and give further directives.
“An incident of this nature is yet again a grim reminder of the dangers associated with military flying and the risks NAF pilots and technicians experience in their onerous tasks of defending our nation and deterring criminal elements from their nefarious activities, ” the statement added.
This fourth aircraft incident that will be experienced within two months in the aviation sector.
On November 14, many passengers sustained injuries as an aircraft belonging to Nigerian airline, ValueJet skidded off the runway at the Port Harcourt International Airport in Rivers State.
Also in November, an incident involving a Boeing 737 Jet with registration number 5N-BYQ owned by Aero Contractors Airlines, crash-landed at Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport.
The Nigerian Safety Investigation Bureau stated that the incident was classified as ‘a serious accident.’
Similarly, another incident occurred last week when a private HS25B aircraft operated by Flint Aero narrowly avoided tragedy as it crash-landed on the runway at Ibadan, Oyo State.
Passengers on board, including the Minister of Power, Adebayo Adelabu, escaped death.