NO fewer than 550 returning Niger State pilgrims who performed this year’s hajj in Saudi Arabia escaped death at the Minna International airport when the airline that brought them back to the country almost crash-landed.
The incident occurred around 5am today (Saturday) according to a source at the airport.
It was learnt that the aircraft a Boeing 744 with registration number 5N/ DBK carrying not less than 550 passengers developed a technical fault resulting in its forceful landing, damaging one of the aircraft’s four engines.
Part of the tarmac and some materials were also damaged by the aircraft which skidded off the runway.
An eyewitness said most of the passengers were in shock as they rushed out of the plane, wondering what had transpired. No one died as a result of the incident.
“I have never seen this type of thing in my life is only God and God alone that saved us from a terrible incident.
“The fire that would have followed would have spread to all parts of the airport because we don’t have fire fighting vehicles in this airport” the source, a senior official of the airport told PUNCH.
It was gathered that 5 officials of the Accident Bureau of Investigation from Lagos arrived the airport and immediately inspected the partly damaged aircraft after which they went into a closed door meeting.
The Public Relations Officer of the state Pilgrims Welfare Board, Hassana Isah, when contacted confirmed the story but did not give further details.
Isah, however, said the development would not affect the return journey of the over 2000 pilgrims still in Saudi Arabia, adding that the deadline for the return journey of the pilgrims would be met.
No official of the airline was available to comment on the issue even when it was reported that the pilot was devastated by the incident.