ACCRA, Ghana – A cargo plane attempting to land at an airport in Ghana's capital crashed Saturday night, slamming into a bus loaded with passengers on a nearby street, killing all 10 people on board, emergency responders said.
The crash occurred in Accra near Kotoka International Airport, which sits near newly built high-rise buildings, hotels and the country's Defense Ministry. Witnesses said the plane first smashed through the fence that runs around the airport before hitting the bus.
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 appear to have 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 road side. It crashed into a bus that was bound for Accra," 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."
An official at the airport's control tower declined to comment when reached Saturday night, saying no one was available to discuss the crash. Police officials also refused to immediately discuss the matter, although a press conference was scheduled to take place later Saturday.
Police and soldiers quickly cordoned off the neighborhood where the plane crashed. The area is near to El-Wak Sports Stadium and Hajj Village, where Muslims in the country stay before they journey to Mecca.
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.
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.