Military helicopters searched for a missing plane that was carrying at least 114 people when it disappeared from radar shortly after taking off from Nigeria's commercial capital, officials said Sunday.
The Boeing 737 aircraft, operated by Bellview Airlines, lost contact with the control tower five minutes after taking off from the Lagos airport at 8:45 p.m. on 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.
Ibinola said military choppers dispatched to search for the aircraft failed to find it and returned to their base.
"They will go out again as soon as it's daylight to see if the plane can be located," he said.
Those aboard included at least 108 passengers and six crew, Ibinola said. Their nationalities were not immediately known.
CNN reported on its Web site that Nigerian aviation authorities had confirmed that the plane had crashed. Officials speaking to The Associated Press, however, would not confirm this.
Most aircraft taking off from the airport at Lagos, Nigeria's biggest city, fly out over the Atlantic, and turn back toward the West Africa coast.
"We still don't have any concrete information of what became of the plane," Ibinola said. "We've tried from neighboring countries to see if the plane landed there but there's no such information."
Bellview, a privately owned Nigerian airline, operates a fleet consisting mostly of Boeing 737 jets with domestic and regional routes. Bellview's first began flying about 10 years ago and has not suffered a crash before.