Somalia probes 'plane explosion' after emergency landing

  • 3 February 2016
  • From the section Africa
Media captionSomalia plane: Video shows hole in fuselage

Somalia has launched an investigation after a commercial plane made an emergency landing with a gaping hole in its fuselage in the capital, Mogadishu.

There were fears that the hole in the Daallo Airlines flight, bound for Djibouti, was caused by a bomb.

Reports said a person fell out of the hole, which appeared shortly after the plane took off from Mogadishu airport on Tuesday.

But Daallo Airlines says all 60 people on board have been accounted for.

Security officials say two passengers were hurt in the incident.

Some reports say a fire broke out shortly after take-off.

Serbian captain Vlatko Vodopivec said he and others were told the explosion was caused by a bomb, though civil aviation authority officials said they had found no evidence so far of a criminal act.

"It was my first bomb; I hope it will be the last,'' Mr Vodopivec said. He said the blast happened when the plane was at around 11,000ft (3,350m).

"It would have been much worse if we were higher," he added.

Darren Howe, who had a colleague on the plane, told the BBC that "it was not an explosion but a fuselage failure at 10,000ft".

Image copyright Harun Maruf
Image caption The hole in the fuselage appeared close to the wing
Image copyright Harun Maruf
Image caption The airlines says all passengers have been accounted for
Image copyright Darren Howe
Image caption The plane landed safely

Mohamed Hassan, a police officer in Balad, an agricultural town 30km (18 miles) north of Mogadishu, said residents had found the body of a man who might have fallen from the plane.

Abdiwahid Omar, the director of Somalia's civil aviation authority, told state-run Radio Mogadishu that authorities were not sure if the body was that of a passenger.

Daallo Airlines flies regularly from its base in Dubai to Somalia and Djibouti.

Somalia is battling militant Islamist group al-Shabab that has been carrying out deadly attacks in its quest to establish an Islamic state.

Analysis: Tomi Oladipo; BBC Africa Security correspondent:

The apparent explosion happened before the Daallo Airlines plane had gained high altitude and before the cabin had been pressurised.

This allowed the pilot to bring it back down for an emergency landing. If the plane had been much higher up, its fuselage could have been ripped apart and the passengers sucked out.

Photographs of the plane show the seats next to the hole still intact, meaning any explosion probably came from the overhead compartments.

This should raise questions about the security procedures for passengers flying from Mogadishu's Aden Adde Airport, in light of the security issues in the country.

Local media reported that Turkish Airlines, one of the few flying to Somalia, suspended its flights from Mogadishu in December following a failed al-Shabab attack on the airport.

The airline soon resumed operating the route, although a flight expected on Tuesday did not show up, raising questions about whether the Turks had intelligence about a security breach.

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