The bodies of the two pilots of the crashed Dana Air’s MD-83 Plane which crashed and claimed the lives of 153 passengers were not found at the site of the crash as they were completely incinerated by the post-crash inferno.
153 body bags were recovered from the site of the Dana Crash of the 3rd of June, 2012. Of that figure, the Pathologists conducting an inquest into the cause of the crash were able to identify the bodies of 148 persons. These details were given in court on Friday when the Chief Medical Examiner and Consultant Pathologist of the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH), Prof. John Obafunwa, testified before a Coroner Court sitting at the Lagos High Court, Ikeja.
The American Pilot, Mr. Peter Waxtan, 55, and his Indian Co-Pilot, Mr. Mahendra Rathore, 34, whose bodies were not found were among the 153 persons aboard the plane and other persons on the ground, were killed in the crash. Prof Obafunwa, who along with other experts conducted series of postmortem tests on the bodies recovered from the crash site, said a total of nine persons among the 153 persons aboard the plane could not be identified.
He said the team of experts could not identify the bodies of the Pilot and the Co-Pilot after exhaustive deliberation and consultation.
"Bodies of other crew members were however identified. It is also possible some of them were completely incinerated."
He said apart from Waxtan, and Rathore, who were certain to be on the plane, the other seven names of passengers on the manifest whose bodies were not found, might actually not have boarded the plane. The consultant testified that it is either these individuals were not on board the plane or some other passengers used their names to get on board. According to Prof Obafunwa, among the 148 bodies identified with their names, three of them were identified through the DNA analysis carried out in the United Kingdom and the three were discovered to be among the bodies of those who died on the ground.
Led in evidence by the counsel for the state’s Attorney General, Mr Akinjide Bakare, the pathologist said three unidentified bodies were still being kept in the mortuary. Among the 153 body bags received by his team, two among the bags contained different parts of the body of the same person. The pathologist also tendered in court the final report of the series of tests carried out on the bodies.
The autopsy reports on the 148 identified bodies with their names and 170 CDs of images also formed part of documents admitted as exhibits at Friday’s proceedings. The images in the CDs, part of which were shown during the proceedings contained the X-rays, dental structure, bodies of the identified victims and bone samples of some of the victims. Prof Obafunwa said two-thirds of the bodies removed were burnt beyond recognition, some suffered "heat fracture", a situation whereby some limbs were completely burnt out, and some were decapitated.
Magistrate Oyetade Komolafe has adjourned till January 25 for lawyers representing Dana Air and other parties to cross-examine the Pathologist.