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Explosion blows hole in side of passenger plane

There are unconfirmed reports that a burning man was sucked out of the gap in the side of the plane 

A passenger plane had to make an emergency landing after an explosion on board ripped a large hole in the fuselage.

Flight D3159, operated by Dubai-based Daallo Airlines, had taken off from Mogadishu airport in Somalia en route to Djibouti but was forced to land minutes later.

Officials say they have found no evidence of a criminal act but an investigation involving foreign technical experts is under way.

A hole is seen in a plane operated by Daallo Airlines as it sits on the runway of the airport in Mogadishu, Somalia
Somalia’s civil aviation authority has so far found no evidence of a criminal act (STR/AP)

 

Two passengers on board said they heard a loud bang, suggesting an explosion.

There are also unconfirmed reports that a burning man was sucked out of the hole in the plane.

The pilot said he thought the blast was caused by a bomb. Awale Kullane, Somalia's deputy ambassador to the UN 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 passengers realised "quite a chunk" of the plane was missing, he wrote. A preliminary report will be issued later this week.

Although Mr Mohamoud said there were only two injuries, there were unverified reports that a person fell out of the hole.

Daallo Airlines said in a brief statement posted on its Facebook page that the Airbus A321 plane was operated by Hermes Airlines. It said the plane "experienced an incident shortly after take-off".

"The Aircraft landed safely and all of our passengers were evacuated safely.

A thorough investigation is being conducted by Somalia Civil Aviation Authority," the Daallo statement said. 

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

"I think it was a bomb," said the Serbian pilot, Vladimir Vodopivec, who was quoted by Belgrade daily 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," the 64-year-old pilot said.

Somalia faces an insurgency perpetrated by the Somali Islamic extremist group al-Shabab, which is responsible for many deadly attacks across the nation.

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