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Man 'sucked out of plane' after explosion

The pilot said he thought the blast was caused by a bomb.

OFFICIALS AT SOMALIA’S civil aviation authority said they have found no evidence so far of a criminal act in an explosion on an airliner that took off from Mogadishu’s airport and returned for an emergency landing.

Sky News is reporting that a man was sucked out of the plane after the blast.

Investigators moved the plane from the runway to a private hangar. Foreign technical experts were involved in the inquiry, Ali Mohamoud, an aviation official at the airport, said.

The pilot said he thought the blast was caused by a bomb.

Two passengers on board the flight – which was headed to Djibouti in the Horn of Africa – said they heard a loud bang, suggesting an explosion that left a hole in the passenger cabin.

Awale Kullane, Somalia’s deputy ambassador to the UN, was on board the flight. He said on Facebook that he “heard a loud noise and couldn’t see anything but smoke for a few seconds.” When visibility returned they realised “quite a chunk” of the plane was missing, he wrote.

Harun Maruf, a journalist with Voice of America, tweeted that residents in Bal’ad have found a man’s body.

Mohamed Hassan, a police officer in Bal’ad, an agricultural town 30 kilometers (about 18 miles) north of Mogadishu, confirmed that the dead body of an elderly man who might have fallen from a plane was found.

The plane was headed to Djibouti when the blast happened minutes after takeoff. An official investigation is underway and a preliminary report will be issued later this week, officials said.

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.

Somalia Emergency Landing AP AP

Officials at the carrier’s Dubai office had no immediate further comment when contacted by The Associated Press.

‘I think it was a bomb’

Hermes Airlines is based in Athens, Greece. Its main business is providing planes on a “wet lease” basis, meaning it leases insured planes staffed and serviced by its crew to other carriers. Its fleet includes four A321s and one Boeing 737, according to its website.

“I think it was a bomb,” the Serbian pilot, Vladimir Vodopivec, told 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.

- Additional reporting by Órla Ryan

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Read: Georgia has just executed its oldest death row inmate

Associated Foreign Press
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