Blast on Somalia airliner points to bomb: pilot, expert

2016-02-03 19:31
The hole which was ripped into the Daallo Airlines plane. (Awale Kullane,via AP)

The hole which was ripped into the Daallo Airlines plane. (Awale Kullane,via AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Mogadishu - A blast that ripped a hole in a commercial airliner shortly after take-off from Somalia's capital was probably caused by a bomb, aviation experts and the pilot who landed it safely said on Wednesday.

The plane, operated by Daallo Airlines and flying from Mogadishu to Djibouti with 74 passengers, safely made an emergency landing on Tuesday. Police said two people on board were injured.

The Serbian pilot has said he thought the blast, which ripped the fuselage from inside to out, had been an explosive device, according to reports in the Serbian newspaper Blic.

Pilot Vladimir Vodopivec, 64, told a friend he thought it was "a bomb", without giving more details.

Photographs show a large hole - about a metre in diameter - just above the engines on the right wing, with streaks of soot on the plane.

Vodopivec added that the blast did not damage the navigation systems, and while cabin pressure was lost, he was able to guide the plane back safely to land at Mogadishu airport.

Aviation safety expert Xavier Tytelman said he compared images of the blast with photographs of previous explosions, and it had all the appearances of a bomb blast.

It was not caused by any issue of pressurisation, he said, for the blast ripped the metal outwards.

"The explosion occurred at the passenger level...it clearly comes from inside," he told AFP, adding that at that part of the plane, there was no major engine or electrical device to spark such a blast.

"In addition, the metal is bent forward against the flow of air - it is not an issue of depressurisation," he said.

Video footage taken after the blast showed people having moved to the back of the plane with emergency oxygen masks dangling down as wind rushed around the main cabin, although most people appeared fairly calm.

'Terrified' 

"The passenger plane made an emergency landing soon after it took off on Tuesday, and there was a damage on one side of the aircraft over the right wing," Somali police officer Mohamed Ise said.

He added it was not clear what had caused the explosion and fire and that investigations were being carried out.

"Passengers were terrified," said Abdiwahab Hassan, an airport official.

The plane "experienced an incident shortly after take-off", operator Daallo Airlines said in a statement.

"The aircraft landed safely and all of our passengers were evacuated safely," it added. "A thorough investigation is being conducted by Somalia Civil Aviation Authority."

Mogadishu airport is heavily fortified and adjoins the capital's main base of the African Union mission to Somalia, the 22 000-strong force backing the government in the battle against al-Qaeda-affiliated al-Shebaab insurgents.

The insurgents have lost ground since being routed from Mogadishu in 2011, but continue to stage regular shooting and suicide attacks.

Last month they stormed a Kenyan army base at El-Adde in southwest Somalia, in the latest incident of an African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom) base being overrun.

The Shebaab have also staged attacks in Kenya, killing at least 67 people at Nairobi's Westgate Mall in 2013 and massacring 148 people at a university in Garissa in April 2015.

They have made no claim of carrying out a bomb attack on the plane.

Read more on:    al-shebaab  |  somalia  |  security  |  air travel

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.