LAGOS - Declaring the accident a national disaster, Nigeria began three days of mourning on Monday, June 4, after a plane crashed into a densely populated neighborhood in Lagos, killing all 153 passengers and unknown numbers on the ground.
"This is really a horrific moment for us here and we sympathize and give condolences to all the victims and families. (There are no) words to express our pain and grief," Lagos state governor Babatunde Fashola said at the crash site, Reuters reported.
"It is saddening, it is simply too much."
The plane, which was flying to Lagos from the capital Abuja, crashed near the airport, damaging buildings and setting off an inferno in the poor and densely populated neighborhood.
Operated by domestic carrier Dana Air, the reason behind the crash of the Boeing McDonnell Douglas MD-83 remained unclear.
Yet, officials said that s cockpit recorder had been located and handed over to police.
President Goodluck Jonathan has declared three days of national mourning and ordered an investigation into the cause of Sunday's accident.
The airline said on Sunday 147 people had perished, but in a list published overnight, there were 6 crew members, taking the total to 153 killed.
"Seventy bodies have so far been evacuated from the wreckage, efforts are ongoing to remove the remaining bodies," Oke Osanyintolu, head of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) for Lagos state, told Reuters on the scene.
Chaos broke out after the crash, with rescue workers facing thousands of residents thronging the streets and blocking access to the emergency services.
The plane crashed in a plot containing what residents described as a church, a printing shop and the two-storey residential building.
"I was just coming out of church around 3:30 pm when I heard a loud noise," one witness, Tunji Dawodu, told Agence France Presse (AFP).
"I thought it was an explosion," he said.
"Then there was a huge flame from the building where the plane has crashed into."
Starting three-day mourning, the Nigerian government said it has launched an investigation into the horrible accident.
I am extremely saddened by the news of the crash and I assure the nation that investigations are underway. Nigeria's aviation Minister, Princess Stella Odua was quoted by Vanguard newspaper
Her predecessor, Femi Fani-Kayode, on his part blamed the deteriorated safety standards for the accident.
This is so sad. All that blood and life just wasted. We warned them about safety standards, he said.
Aviation is the sector I presided over. I know it inside out and now I am in pain. May the souls of those that died in that crash rest in peace.
Nigeria has a spotty aviation record, although Dana had been considered to be a relatively safe and reasonably efficient domestic airline since it began operating in 2008.
Nigeria's government has made a number of improvements to its air-safety systems, introducing modern passenger-scanning equipment and improvements in its airport radar systems.
In 2010, the United States gave Nigeria the Federal Aviation Administration's highest rating, a Category 1, allowing Nigeria's commercial carriers to land at US airports.
Yet, despite these improvements on paper, Nigeria's upgrades still fail to meet standards when it comes to implementation.
Frequent power outages - an odd occurrence in a country that is Africa's largest oil producer -- and failure of its backup generator systems often shut down air-traffic control systems for hours at a time, and delay the takeoff and arrival of flights.
The crash is the country's worst since September 1992, when a military transport plane crashed shortly after takeoff from Lagos, kill all 163 Army soldiers and crew aboard.