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After Ethiopian Airlines Crash, Journalist Recounts Own Near-Crash Experience

A Nigerian journalist, Betty Abah, has narrated her near-death experience aboard a Turkish Airways flight that was hit by a heavy turbulence 45 minutes away from landing at the John F Kennedy Airport in New York City on March 9.

Abah, who is the Executive Director of Cee-Hope Nigeria, a non-governmental organisation, gave the narration after the Ethiopian Airlines plane crash that left no fewer than 157 passengers and crew members dead on Sunday morning (March 10).

Among the passengers who lost their lives in the Ethiopian Airlines crash was a Nigerian professor and writer, Pius Adesanmi. The crashed plane was en route Nairobi, Kenya, from the Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

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Narrating what could have turned out to be successive tragic incidents, Abah described her experience as ‘‘a scene straight out of a HORROR movie.’’

In a Facebook post she shared on her wall, Abah said she’s ‘‘never ever seen anything like it.’’

The journalist was among the 329 people, including 21 crew members that boarded the Turkish Airlines Boeing 777 on March 9. At least 30 passengers were said to have been injured and a flight attendant left with a broken leg. The event occurred a day before the Boeing 737 belonging to the Ethiopian Airlines crashed with all passengers confirmed dead.

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‘‘I am still dazed, still in shock, still in denial,’’ she wrote in the post, adding that, ‘‘We were around Montreal, close to Long Island, about 40 mins to touch down at the JFK International Airport in New York when the air drama started.’’

‘‘Bedlam upon bedlam. Sheer chaos. Seeing passengers being flung up, slammed to the aircraft floor, thrown around, cries everywhere (mostly those without seat belts), joining in the high pitched wailings as our plane did break dance in the air and looked like it would flip and make a final free fall any moment. I thought the end had come. I thought of my parents and loved ones and I wailed the more. I had seen turbulences but that was THE TURBULENCE!

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‘‘I called upon Jesus, so many others praying. It was that BAD. Scary, scary stuff. A 15-minute space in which the lives of more than 300 persons huddled together hanged on the fragile scale between life and death, over an endless water body and in a foreign land.

‘‘When the storm subsided, several people had wounded, about 30 passengers needing medical help (bloodied noses, bruised faces, limbs, bleeding heads etc). Many had panic attacks. Oxygen masks dropped down amidst the big commotion.

‘‘Within mins of landing, at about 5pm, our aircraft was surrounded by medics, police, fire trucks, and ambulances, stretchers, wheel chairs etc to take the wounded to hospital.

‘‘That was definitely the scariest experience of my life. Looks like I saw death in the face, snarling, or was it Nature leering at science?’’ she narrated.

Meanwhile, Ethiopian Airlines has urged the families of those killed aboard its flight 302 to wait at least five days before they can begin to receive the remains of their departed relatives.

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“The process of identifying the victims will take at least five days,” the company’s spokesman Asrat Begashaw told reporters in Addis Ababa on Tuesday.

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