Investigation starts on cargo plane crash in Ghana

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Officials opened an investigation into the Boeing 727 cargo plane that crashed at Ghana's international airport killing at least 10 people after it slammed through a fence and onto a nearby street, the country's transit company said Sunday.

Doreen Owusu Fianko, the chief executive of the Ghana Airport Co., said the group has discounted airport equipment failure as one of the causes of the crash. She said they were open to outside help on the investigation.

"We would not hesitate to seek external assistance to unravel the cause and to take lessons from that," she said.

Saturday's 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 a bus.

Randy Banahene, a taxi driver who saw the crash, said an explosion sound was heard when the plane hit a wall. He said the plane landed on its belly across a road, its nose nicked and tail bent with punctures on its side, just yards from a residential neighborhood.

Families gathered at the hospital mortuary late Saturday night to identify bodies. Among them were family members of 27-year-old Castro Abuchor, who they said was riding a motorcycle when he was hit by the plane and killed.

The others were killed while riding in the minibus that was hit by the plane, officials said.

Mortuary manager Woi Boamah Mensah at the 37 Military Hospital said that eight of the 10 dead have been identified. Hospital staff had earlier said that nine of the dead were men, and one was a woman.

Ghana President John Atta Mills on Sunday visited the four plane crew members who are receiving treatment at the airport clinic after surviving the crash.

"We are grateful to all of them," Mills said at the clinic.

Dr. Nana Ako-Bruce, the medical director of the clinic, said the four crew members were Nigerian.

Billy Anaglate, spokesman for the Ghana Fire Service, said that all 10 people were killed on impact. He identified the plane as an Allied (Air) Cargo plane.

Fianko said the plane was coming from Lagos, the commercial capital of Nigeria, when it crashed after a failed landing attempt. She said that operations at the airport had returned to normal after the crash Saturday.

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.