A passenger was ejected from a commercial plane when an explosion blew a hole in aircraft’s side just after takeoff over Somalia on Tuesday, sources told CNN.
Two other people were injured, but the pilot was able to safely land the Daallo Airlines plane back at Mogadishu International Airport, the network reported.
An airport official told CNN the Airbus A321-111 was between 12,000 and 14,000 feet in the air at the time of the explosion. A source told the network Somali authorities indicated one passenger was blown or ejected from a hole in the side of the plane after the explosion.
Somalia’s National News Agency reported that one passenger died after falling from Flight D3159, CNN reported, adding that Somali authorities discovered a body near Mogadishu believed to have fallen from the aircraft.
Mohamed Hassan, a police officer in Balad, an agricultural town about 18 miles north of Mogadishu, said residents had found the body of a man who might have fallen from a plane.
Cellphone video taken aboard the plane pans from passengers, some wearing oxygen masks, in seats toward the back of the airliner in flight, and then swivels to the empty front area with a hole in the side of the cabin. There is a loud sound of rushing air. The video was taken by Awale Kullane, Somalia’s deputy ambassador to the United Nations, and obtained by The Associated Press.
Footage Appears to show Daallo Airlines plane flying with gapi…
Footage Appears to show #Daallo Airlines plane flying with gaping hole in its sideSomalian Daallo Airline passenger jet catches fire minutes after take-off. Incredible footage posted by Awale Kullane appears to show Daallo Airlines plane flying with gaping hole in its sideAmazing video shows Daallo airlines plane 'flying with hole in side' after it caught fire in mid-air Passengers in the footage, uploaded online by Amb Awale Kullane, can be seen wearing oxygen masks as the wind billows through the aircraftThis amazing new footage appears to show a Daallo Airlines plane flying with a hole in its side after it caught fire thousands of feet in the air this morning.Passengers in the video, uploaded by Amb Awale Kullane, can be seen calmly wearing oxygen masks as the wind billows through the aircraft.Passengers appear to have been moved to the very front and back of the aircraft and away from the hole, which was caused by an explosion minutes after it took off.Mr Awale Kullane, who is the deputy permanent representative of Somalia to the United Nations , said: "Onboard Jubba/Daalo Airlines this morning while it was on air for a few minutes we just heard a loud noise and couldn't see anything but smoke for a few seconds, when visibility returned we realised quite a chunk of the plain missing (sic)."My destination was Djibouti where I was to attend the Conference of the Directors of Diplomatic Academies of IGAD Ministries of Foreign Affairs, but it seems our attendance was not meant to be, but Alhamdulilah we are safe and back in Mogadishu."
Posted by Aerospace UK on Wednesday, February 3, 2016
Another source told CNN that damage tests positively indicated explosive residue — but civil aviation authority officials said Wednesday they had found no evidence so far of a criminal act.
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If this was a bomb, no group immediately took responsibility.
Al-Shabaab has been behind some of the worst violence in recent years in and around Somalia. Some of it targeted tourists, such as last month’s deadly attack on a beachside restaurant-hotel complex in Mogadishu. Young people also have been targets, as shown in the massacre at Kenya’s Garissa University College. And the general public hasn’t escaped the group’s violence, as evidenced in a 2013 assault on an upscale mall in Nairobi.
Yet this Islamist extremist group has recently gotten competition from ISIS, with a high-ranking Al-Shabaab member and spiritual leader pledging allegiance to the rival group last fall.
Flights in and out of Mogadishu International Airport were suspended briefly Tuesday because of the Daallo Airlines incident.
That airport is home to offices of the United Nations, African Union and many diplomatic missions, including those of the United States and European Union.
Daallo Airlines is based in the United Arab Emirates and has flights to Djibouti, Kenya, Saudi Arabia and Somalia.
The plane’s veteran pilot, Serbian captain Vlatko Vodopivec, told the Associated Press that he and others were told the explosion was caused by a bomb. “It was my first bomb,” he said. “I hope it will be the last.”
The 64-year-old said the engines and hydraulics functioned normally after the blast so he had no problem flying the aircraft back to Mogadishu.
“Smoke came into the cockpit, but it was mostly concentrated in the back of the aircraft,” he said in a telephone interview from a U.N. military base in Mogadishu before he was to fly to Athens, Greece. “The stewardesses did a great job calming down the passengers and following the emergency procedure.”
Investigators moved the plane from the runway to a private hangar. Foreign technical experts were involved in the inquiry, said Ali Mohamoud, an aviation official at the Mogadishu airport.
Two passengers on board the flight that was headed to Djibouti in the Horn of Africa said they heard a loud bang that left a hole in the passenger cabin.
Awale Kullane, Somalia’s deputy ambassador to the U.N. who was on board the flight, said on Facebook that he “heard a loud noise and couldn’t see anything but smoke for a few seconds.” When visibility returned they realized “quite a chunk” of the plane was missing, he wrote.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.
This story has been updated.