No less than 550 Nigerian pilgrims performing this year’s hajj in Saudi Arabia on Saturday escaped death at Minna International Airport as the Max Airline aircraft carrying them back to Nigeria skipped off the runway.
Hassana Isah, State Pilgrims Welfare Board’s Public Relations Officer, revealed the incidence to reporters, but gave no information.
Another airport source who pleaded anonymity said the event took place on Saturday at about 5.00am.
He said the aircraft, a Boeing 744 with 5N / DBK registration number, developed a technical fault resulting in their forced landing.
The source said one of the aircraft’s four motors was damaged by the development.
He said that the aircraft also damaged portion of the tarmac and facilities at the airport as a result of the accident.
The source informed reporters that after it stopped off the runway, the passengers were rushed out of the aircraft.
“Nobody died, but I have never seen this type of thing in my life, only God saved them from a terrible disaster.
“The fire that would have followed would have spread (to all parts of the airport) because we don’t have fire fighting vehicles in this airport,” he said.
The partially damaged aircraft were checked by Lagos ‘ Accident Investigation Bureau officials, after which they entered a closed door meeting.
Mr Isah assured that the development would not affect the return journey of Saudi Arabia’s more than 2,000 pilgrims from the state.