Lagos, Nigeria — Military helicopters searched in vain for a missing plane that was carrying at least 114 people when it disappeared from radar shortly after taking off from Nigeria's biggest city, officials said today.
The Boeing 737 aircraft, operated by Nigerian-run Bellview Airlines, lost contact with the control tower five minutes after taking off from the Lagos airport at 8:45 p.m. Saturday, said Jide Ibinola, a spokesman for the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria. It was headed to the capital, Abuja, on a 50-minute flight.
Pilots issued a distress call before the plane disappeared from radar about 15 miles west of Lagos over the Atlantic Ocean, state television reported.
Airport officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to speak to the press, said they believed the plane had crashed, although there was no confirmation of that.