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Is Nigerian crash investigation left up to a higher power?

One of the most critical times for aircraft investigations is the immediate aftermath of a crash. Family members of the people on board are hungry for information, and while establishing a cause that soon after such a devastating event is often not possible, or even warranted, the last thing grieving family members want to hear is uncertainty on the part of investigators. When the accident is an international plane crash, the lack of complete information is even more maddening.

One country that is known for a less-than-safe aviation system is Nigeria. As the country's economy grows quickly, the need for professionals for air travel is increasing too. It may be that the needs of people to travel is growing faster than the system can handle it. In any case, a recent crash in which 15 people were killed followed a the country's worst crash in two decades, a crash last year in which 163 people died.

The country's aviation minister, who is in charge of investigating air disasters, recently said in the wake of the most recent tragedy that air crashes are acts of God and thus inevitable. Many Africans still believe that fatal accidents are caused by evil spirits or some otherworldly power.

News media and bloggers were quick to condemn her remarks, however; one former occupant of the minister's position said she should resign. The minister eventually walked back her comments, saying that passenger safety was the responsibility of many people in the airline industry. However, the public relations damage was already done. This may be an extreme case, but it can serve as an example of how the family of someone injured or killed in an international aviation disaster could benefit from working with an aviation accident attorney in the United States.

Source: Reuters, "Nigeria aviation minister calls air crash 'act of God'," Tim Cocks, Oct. 9, 2013

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