Anxious families and diplomats have crowded into a hospital in Lagos and tried to identify corpses from an air crash that killed 153 people aboard the airliner and an unknown number of others on the ground.
The stench of the dead carried outside the air-conditioned morgue on Tuesday. Guards parking cars outside wore surgical masks to block out the smell.
David Oke, the chief medical director of the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, told the dozens of families that the morgue had received about 40 bodies.
Outside the hospital, Ugonna Nwoka said his uncle had been aboard the Dana Air flight that went down in a congested neighbourhood on Sunday, turning much of it to rubble.
Nwoka said he tried to go to the crash site on Monday but was pushed away by security forces.
"We stayed for hours trying to plead to see what happened," he said.
Asked why he needed to see the crash site, Nwoka said if he did not, it would be, "all like a dream, like a drama, like it's not real".
By midday on Tuesday, searchers with police dogs recovered 150 bodies, including those of a mother cradling an infant, according to Nigeria's National Emergency Management Agency.
It is not yet known how many people died on the ground.
Sifting through debris
Emergency workers were still looking on Tuesday through the debris for bodies, and one damaged building seemed on the verge of collapse.
The MD-83 plane went down in Lagos's Iju-Ishaga neighbourhood, about 9km from Lagos's Murtala Muhammed International Airport.
The crew radioed the tower that they had engine trouble shortly before the crash, but the exact cause remained unclear.
The weather was clear at the time.
Late on Monday, emergency workers recovered both the flight data recorder and the cockpit voice recorder, according to Tunji Oketunbi, a spokesman for the Accident Investigation Bureau, which investigates air crashes in Nigeria.
"We will take them abroad for decoding and that will help our analysis,'' Oketunbi said on Tuesday.
"We will know what happened to the aircraft shortly before it crashed."
Others suggested it had hit a building directly.
Sunday's crash appeared to be the worst since September 1992, when a military transport aircraft crashed into a swamp shortly after take-off from Lagos. All 163 army soldiers, relatives and crew members on board were killed.
On Saturday night, a Nigerian Boeing 727 cargo airliner crashed in Accra, the capital of Ghana, hitting a bus and killing 10 people. The aircraft belonged to Lagos-based Allied Air Cargo.
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|Timothy V. Gatto|