This terrifying footage shows the moment petrified passengers screamed and chanted prayers as smoke filled their plane when an engine appeared to catch fire after taking off in Nigeria.

Footage captured by a passenger showed people praying loudly, screaming and weeping as the crew prepared to make an emergency landing, according to Daily Mail.

Panicked travellers could smell something burning about 20 minutes after take-off and smoke then began to fill the aircraft and alarms went off.

The plane was carrying 53 passengers, including a seven-month-old baby, Sahara Reporters said.

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As smoke filled the cabin, oxygen masks failed to deploy and passengers were told to cover their mouths and noses with wet towels handed out by the crew, a report claimed.

Passenger Oriakwu Okwesilieze, who recorded the footage, said the Aero Contractors plane "started smoking" about 20 minutes into a domestic flight from Port Harcourt to Lagos in Nigeria on Wednesday.

She wrote on Twitter: "I escaped death. I'm still shaky, this experience is one I can't forget easily. Over 30 minutes we were chanting prayers as our flight was filled with smoke.

"Aero flight went up in flames...one of the blades was burning. Twenty minutes after take off, the flight started smoking. For 35 minutes we were chanting prayers, screaming, panicking....like we just took off and I'm about to die? Nah! God can't let this happen. The smoke was so thick we couldn't see, the blades were sparking.

"Pilot said we should calm down but something was burning, smelling and the smoke got thicker, the alarms went off but he said to calm down?

"He said anyone that can't breathe should use a wet handkerchief. Ha! All I could think about was my family. Hell no I'm not dying today.

"I prayed and quoted all the Bible verses I could think of. I was shaking, the plane was moving up and down, women were screaming at the back. I'm just grateful to be alive."

The plane was met by firefighters when it made an emergency landing 35 minutes after take-off.

Nigeria's Civil Aviation Authority and the airline are investigating the incident.

A spokesman for the airline - whose slogan is "the reliable way to fly" - said everything appeared as normal during a routine pre-flight check of the plane.

He said an alarm sounded and smoke filled the cabin after a passenger went into a lavatory.

The spokesman commended the pilot and crew for their "professionalism" during the emergency.

The incident comes two years after another Aero Contractors flight suffered a technical fault during a domestic flight in Nigeria.

About 20 minutes after take-off, the plane suddenly lost altitude and began to "wobble", forcing the flight crew to make an emergency landing.

Passengers also recounted smoke coming from the engine during that 2015 mid-air drama.