Tragedy struck on Sunday when a Dana Airlines Boeing MD83 plane slammed into a residential area in Lagos, Nigeria, presumably killing all 153 passengers and crew on-board. Micro-blogging site Twitter has been ablaze with comments, condolences and anger, as news reports about the crash trickle in from the West African nation.
Although social media has made the dissemination of news and information easier, it can sometimes have adverse consequences. The names of the deceased and the plane’s manifest were reportedly leaked through links on Twitter before the families were officially notified. Photos from the crash scene were also uploaded.
“Uneasy about tweeting of the names of Dana passenger manifest. Seems a bit insensitive. Wouldn’t want to find out that way,” tweeted Vickie Remoe.
Another, Chima, wrote “It’s a newsworthy story, we all agree, but let’s stop trying to be frontrunners instead of showing the empathy the news deserves. It could have been anyone. Wait for official release of names”. The comment was made after blogger Ediong posted a list of all the passengers.
Other blogs quickly picked up on the Twitter link and started to post their own passenger lists well before the official list was made available by the relevant authorities.
Among the passengers on the plane were Levi Ajuonuma, Group General Manager for Public Affairs of Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation; Ehime Aikhomu, son of late General Augustus Aikhomu and two army major generals, Major General Tahir Umar and Major Gen IG Muhammad.
But as the scope of the disaster started to take a hold, Twitter users tweeted about their feelings regarding the crash and also sent well-wishes to the family members affected. “Dear Lord, Dunni is the only Daughter of her folks, please be their Solace and Shield at This Time,” wrote Namdy Nwabasili under the hashtag of #NigeriaMourns.
“R.I.P to the victims of the crash, their days are over, as #NigeriaMourns their demise, let us not forget to say a word of prayer for Her…,” another user said. Tommy B tweeted that it’s a time for the nation to stand together, by saying “PLEASE let’s abuse GEJ (Goodluck Ebele Jonathan) and Nigeria later, but for now, let’s pray to God to lift this dark cloud that’s over our country.”
But as with every tragedy, some Twitter users were not so kind with their words, taking sharp aim at those whom they believe to be responsible. “Nobody will be held accountable, nobody will be sacked, push comes to shove, redeployments will be the thing #sad,” tweeted Andrew Randa. “#Danacrash must be investigated and anyone indicted for negligence made to pay,” added That_nerd_Dexter.
Akerele Akintunde took the opportunity to tweet about preventing future disasters. “Sometimes sympathy is not the answer to mishap, we must match magnitude of our problems with proactive solutions.”
Other users were also helpful by tweeting telephone numbers of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority and other organisations to enable loved ones receive the latest information from reliable sources.
Recovery operations are currently underway, with six more bodies removed from the wreckage as President Goodluck Jonathan visited the scene on Monday afternoon. “(The President has) directed that the Nigerian flag be flown at half-mast for the three days of national mourning. Meanwhile, the president has ordered the fullest possible investigation into the crash,” the President’s office said in a statement.
Charlie Fripp – Consumer Tech editor