The flight that crashed in Nigeria's largest city of Lagos, killing all of the 153 people on board, reported both of its engines having failed before it went down, the civil aviation chief said Monday.
It was not yet clear what caused the Dana Air MD83's engines to fail ahead of Sunday's devastating crash in a densely populated area of Lagos, with more people feared dead on the ground in addition to the passengers.
"They declared mayday," Nigerian civil aviation chief Harold Demuren told AFP. "The reason was that the two engines failed."
The clues emerged as rescuers recovered burnt human remains after the plane slammed into the neighbourhood on the northern outskirts of one of Africa's largest cities, making it one of the country's worst air disasters.
President Goodluck Jonathan visited the devastation on Monday and pledged to improve the country's spotty air safety record as questions were raised over what caused the accident.
Families meanwhile gathered outside a morgue at a Lagos hospital in hopes of identifying relatives.
An ambulance dropped off 13 bodybags at one point Monday afternoon, with a mortuary attendant saying corpses had been arriving since Sunday night.
The attendant said more than 100 bodies had so far been delivered.
Police fired tear gas at a surging crowd seeking to get a look at the crash site at one point on Monday morning, while at other spots around the site people desperately sought access to the wreckage to locate missing relatives.
They were denied access, with rescue workers combing the scene of the crash - the world's worst air disaster so far this year - saying the bodies were unrecognisable.
"I just want to be sure of how he died," one man told rescue workers of his brother.
Wreckage still smouldered at the grisly site near the airport. A two-storey residential building was badly damaged, while a church and a textbook printing warehouse were destroyed.
Local media reported that the crash was Nigeria's worst since 1992, when a military C-130 went down after takeoff in Lagos, killing around 200 people on board.
There have been a number of other crashes with more than 100 victims over the past decade in Nigeria but the most recent was in 2005.
Jonathan pledged action to improve air safety in Africa's most populous nation and largest oil producer.
"We have been working very hard to improve the aviation in this country," Jonathan said after viewing the destruction.
"This particular incident is a major setback for us... By the end of the day, I will make sure that this will not repeat itself in the country."
At least one of the plane's two cockpit recorders had been recovered, officials said.
The flight disappeared from radar one minute after having declared the emergency at 3:43 pm local time (1443 GMT), 11 nautical miles from the airport, a statement from the aviation minister said.
The crash of the plane, which was flying to Lagos from the capital Abuja, set off an inferno in the poor neighbourhood.
A spokesman for the airline said the plane was carrying 147 passengers and six crew. China said six of its nationals were on the plane. The pilot was an American and the co-pilot was Indian, Demuren said.
Chaos broke out after the crash, with rescue workers facing large crowds and aggressive soldiers while trying to access smoldering wreckage in the hunt for survivors.
While tear gas was fired at one point on Monday morning, the scene was generally much more calm, with a heavy security deployment in place.
Dana had been considered to be a relatively safe and reasonably efficient domestic airline since it began operating in 2008.
A spokesman for Nigeria's Accident Investigations Bureau said all 153 people on board the plane were considered dead. The number of those killed on the ground was unclear.
In the aftermath of the crash, thick smoke rose from the area and flames could be seen shooting from a two-storey building.
Thousands of onlookers had partially blocked access to the crash site on Sunday, prompting soldiers to try to clear out the area, using rubber whips and their fists. One even threw a wooden plank at those crowded around.
The area plunged into all-out pandemonium when a helicopter tried to land amid the crowd, kicking up clouds of ash and light debris that again scattered people in various directions.
Lagos, the largest city in Africa's most populous nation, is home to an estimated 15 million people.
The accident followed another plane crash Saturday in the capital of nearby Ghana, when a cargo plane overshot a runway and hit a passenger bus, killing at least 10 people.
The Allied Air cargo plane had departed from Lagos and was to land in Accra.