Monday, June 18, 2018

U.S. family killed in plane crash in Nigeria

WEST HARTFORD, Conn. — Stuffed animals, flowers, candles and cards left by stunned neighbors and friends lay Tuesday in front of the West Hartford home of a family of six killed in an airline crash in Nigeria.

Sunday's crash 5 miles from Lagos' international airport killed all 153 people aboard including Maimuna Anyene of West Hartford, her husband, Onyeke, and their four children including 1-year-old twins, a 5-month-old and a 3-year-old. An untold number of people on the ground also died.

By midday Tuesday, searchers had recovered 150 bodies, according to Nigeria's National Emergency Management Agency.

"It's probably one of the most tragic things I've heard of in my life," said Cynthia Elis, a neighbor whose daughter played with the Anyene children. "She was a beautiful person with four beautiful babies, and they're never going to get to grow up."

About 50 people gathered for a vigil Monday night and left items for a memorial on the family's front step.

"Rest in peace with your four precious babies," read one card. "Your family will be in our hearts forever."

Several news reports said the Anyenes were returning from a wedding when the plane crashed. The cause is under investigation.

Maimuna Anyene was a human relations manager at United Technologies Corp. and had worked for the Hartford-based conglomerate for more than four years, the company said in a statement.

"We are saddened by the loss, and our thoughts and prayers are with her family and friends around the world," the company said. "She will be deeply missed by all, including her colleagues at UTC."

Onyeke Anyene was a lawyer who lived most of the time in Nigeria and had law offices there, according to a report by the Nigerian news website Sahara Reporters.

The couple had four children: 1-year-old twins Kaima and Kaiyen, 5-month-old Noah and 3-year-old Kamsi, the children's godmother, Mari Sifo, told the Hartford Courant.

"We're devastated. We're absolutely devastated," another neighbor, Lisa Ohayon, said Tuesday. "A whole family wiped out, a beautiful, beautiful, beautiful family in so many ways."

West Hartford Mayor Scott Slifka said he had trouble reading details of the plane crash and family to his wife Monday.

"As I was saying it, I was thinking of my own family. My god, is this tragic," Slifka said. "We're roughly the same age. We have a 3-year-old daughter. That could be us.

"Everybody's reaction seems to be pretty uniform. You wince describing it," he said. "It is painful and it is a situation given the age of the kids that has a heightened sense of tragedy to it."

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