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A few hours after the plane conveying the body of the former governor of Ondo State, Dr. Olusegun Agagu, and other family members crashed in Lagos on Thursday, numerous relatives besieged the mortuary of the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital to identify the bodies of their loved ones.
The plane was on its way to Akure, Ondo State capital for the burial ceremony of the former governor. The ceremony was being sponsored by the state government.
On board the Associated Airlines plane marked 5N- BJY were members of the family of the deceased, pall bearers and close friends of the Agagu family.
Report s stated that the plane developed a fault upon take off but did not make it back to the airport as it crashed barely two minutes after take-off.
The mood at LASUTH was somber as relatives wept uncontrollably while trying to identify their families. A few of the victims, who were initially brought in to the hospital alive but died later on, were also transferred to the mortuary at the Lekan Ogunsola Memorial House within the hospital premises.
Thirteen of the bodies which were recovered at the crash site within the premises of the Joint Users Hydrant Installation at the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Ikeja, Lagos, were burnt beyond recognition.
But LASUTH authorities have implored relations of the victims to come forward to give DNA samples which would aid in prompt identification of the victims.
The state Chief Medical Examiner, Prof. John Obafunwa, gave a category of relatives who could give such samples.
He said, “Parents, children, and siblings are those who qualify to visit the hospital to identify their relations.
“Forensic autopsy examination will be conducted to determine the cause of death and assist with the identification of victims.
“Parents, children, siblings can come forward. We will take samples from them and compare with the samples from the victims.”
It is however not clear how long this identification process will take considering that the identification of victims of the June 3, 2012 plane crash, was not concluded for many months.
Meanwhile, the Ondo State government has dismissed the insinuation that it hired the ill-fated aircraft, saying the choice of the airliner was made by the family of the late governor.
A top government official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, revealed that the state government only paid for the service of the airline after the family had approved of it.
The official also said Mr. Deji Falae had to accompany the corpse of the former governor from Lagos to Akure because the Agagu family demanded to have a senior government official from the state accompany the corpse from Lagos – as a mark of respect.