The Daallo Airlines plane was forced to make an emergency landing in Somalia after the explosion.
An explosion blew a hole in a commercial plane, forcing it to make an emergency landing in Somalia late Tuesday, officials said.
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Two people were injured and the 74 passengers and crew were evacuated after the Daallo Airlines plane landed safely at Mogadishu’s international airport, Somali aviation official Ali Mohamoud told the Associated Press.
The pilot said he thought a bomb had caused the explosion and subsequent fire. An aviation expert who looked at photographs of the plane said the damage was consistent with an explosive device.
The plane had been traveling to Djibouti in the Horn of Africa when it was forced to land just minutes after taking off from Mogadishu.
“I think it was a bomb,” the pilot, Vladimir Vodopivec, told Serbian news site Blic. “Luckily, the flight controls were not damaged so I could return and land at the airport. Something like this has never happened in my flight career. We lost pressure in the cabin. Thank god it ended well.”
Awale Kullane, Somalia’s deputy ambassador to the U.N., who was on board, said on Facebook he “heard a loud noise and couldn’t see anything but smoke for a few seconds.” When visibility returned, passengers realized “quite a chunk” of the plane was missing, he wrote.
Kullane, who was going to Djibouti to attend a conference for diplomats, also posted a video showing some passengers putting on oxygen masks inside the plane. The post was later removed from his Facebook page.
“We don’t know a lot, but certainly it looks like a device,” said John Goglia, a former member of the U.S. National Transportation Safety and aviation safety expert. There are only two things that could have caused a hole like the one in photos circulated online, said Goglia — a bomb or a pressurization blowout caused by a flaw or fatigue in the plane’s skin.
Although Somali aviation officials said there were only two injuries, there were unverified reports that a person fell out of the hole, AP reported. Mohamed Hassan, a police officer in the nearby town of Balad, said residents had found the body of an old man who might have fallen from a plane.