Explosion forces plane to make emergency landing in Somalia

MOGADISHU, Somalia -- An explosion and fire blew a gaping hole in a commercial airliner, forcing it to make an emergency landing at Mogadishu's international airport late Tuesday, officials and witnesses said.

See Full Article

The pilot said he thought it was a bomb. An aviation expert who looked at photographs of the hole in the fuselage said the damage was consistent with an explosive device.

Two people were slightly injured as 74 passengers and crew of the plane were evacuated after the plane made a safe landing, Somali aviation official Ali Mohamoud said. It was not certain if all the passengers were accounted for.

The plane, operated by Daallo Airlines and headed to Djibouti in the Horn of Africa, was forced to land minutes after taking off from the Mogadishu airport, said Mohamoud.

"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.

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.

Kullane, who was going to Djibouti to attend a conference for diplomats, also posted a video showing some passengers putting on oxygen masks inside the plane. The post was later removed from his Facebook page.

"We don't know a lot, but certainly it looks like a device," said John Goglia, a former member of the U.S. National Transportation Safety and aviation safety expert. There are only two things that could have caused a hole in the plane that looks like the one in photos circulated online -- a bomb or a pressurization blowout caused by a flaw or fatigue in the plane's skin, said Goglia.

The photos appear to show black soot around the aircraft skin that is peeled back, said Goglia. A pressurization blowout wouldn't create soot, but a bomb would, he said.

Also, information about the event posted online indicate it took place during the takeoff phase of flight before the plane reached 30,000 feet (9,144 metres), where there is maximum pressurization, Goglia said. That makes the case for a pressurization blowout even less likely, he said.

Another passenger, Mohamed Ali, told The Associated Press that he and others heard a bang before flames opened a gaping hole in the plane's side.

"I don't know if it was a bomb or an electric shock, but we heard a bang inside the plane," he said, adding he could not confirm reports that passengers had fallen from the plane.

Although the Somali aviation official said that there were only two injuries, there were unverified reports that a person fell out of the hole. Mohamed Hassan, a police officer in nearby Balad town, said residents had found the dead body of an old man who might have fallen from a plane. Balad is an agricultural town 30 kilometres (about 18 miles) north of Mogadishu.

On Dec. 11, 1994, a bomb blew a 2-foot (0.61-meter) hole in the floor leading to the cargo hold of a Philippine Airlines jetliner with 293 people aboard, but the pilot was able to make a safe emergency landing. One passenger was killed and 10 others were injured on the Manila-to-Japan flight.

The plane was flying at about 33,000 feet (10,058 metres) when the blast occurred. The flight landed about an hour later at Naha airport on Okinawa in southern Japan.

Ramzi Yousef, who was sentenced to life in prison for the Feb. 26, 1993 World Trade Center bombing in New York, was convicted in the bombing of the Philippine Airlines flight.

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

------

AP writers Dusan Stojanovic in Belgrade and Joan Lowy in Washington contributed to this report



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • California sues Trump administration to prevent border wall

    World News Toronto Sun
    SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California’s attorney general sued the Trump administration Wednesday over its plan to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, arguing it’s overstepping its authority by waiving environmental reviews and other laws. The suit filed by Attorney General Xavier Becerra, a Democrat, makes arguments similar to those in a lawsuit brought last week by advocacy groups. Source
  • Battle against ISIS in Raqqa is in 'final stages,' force says

    World News CTV News
    BEIRUT -- The battle for the Islamic State group's de-facto Syria capital, Raqqa, has reached its "final stages," the Syrian Democratic Forces said Wednesday, almost four months after the U.S.-backed force launched an assault on the self-proclaimed capital of the militant group. Source
  • 4 in 10 Canadians think science is a matter of opinion, poll suggests

    Canada News CBC News
    Are scientific findings a matter of opinion? Forty-three per cent of Canadians agree that they are, suggests a new poll. The survey found widespread concerns about fake news — 66 per cent of respondents agreed with the statement that "false information reported as fact (so called 'fake news') is affecting your knowledge of science. Source
  • Police release security footage of suspect in Toronto steakhouse shooting

    Canada News CTV News
    Toronto Police have released security camera footage that shows the suspect in the Saturday night shooting death of real estate broker Simon Giannini. “It’s very important to note that video distorts colours,” homicide detective Shannon Dawson cautioned during a press conference Wednesday. Source
  • Roofs, doors ripped off as Hurricane Maria slams Puerto Rico: ‘This is going to be a disaster’ [Video]

    World News Toronto Sun
    SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — One of the strongest hurricanes to ever hit Puerto Rico pummeled the island Wednesday as officials warned it would decimate the power company’s crumbling infrastructure and force the government to rebuild dozens of communities. Source
  • Neo-Nazi group founder to plead guilty to having explosives

    World News Toronto Sun
    TAMPA, Fla. — The leader of a small Florida-based neo-Nazi group is expected to enter guilty pleas to two charges of having explosives that were found in his apartment’s garage by federal investigators. An attorney for 22-year-old Brandon Russell said Wednesday that Russell will plead guilty in a federal court in Tampa to possessing a destructive device and storing explosive material. Source
  • Death toll jumps to 225 in massive Mexican earthquake: 'Every minute counts to save lives' [Video]

    World News Toronto Sun
    MEXICO CITY — Police, firefighters and ordinary Mexicans dug frantically through the rubble of collapsed schools, homes and apartment buildings early Wednesday, looking for survivors of Mexico’s deadliest earthquake in decades as the number of confirmed fatalities stood at 217. Source
  • Charges laid in traffic-snarling motorcycle stunts on Toronto-area highways

    Canada News CTV News
    TORONTO -- An investigation into a series of dangerous motorcycle stunts that snarled traffic on major highways in and around the Toronto area this summer has led to 48 charges, provincial police announced Wednesday. In announcing the charges against more than 10 people, police displayed video and some of the five motorbikes they seized during search warrants executed this week Source
  • 10 bucks a gram considered for recreational pot price in Ontario

    Canada News CBC News
    The government of Ontario is looking at setting retail prices for recreational marijuana in the range of $10 a gram, CBC News has learned. Until now, the provincial government has been reluctant to make public any specific figures about the price of pot, the expected demand or potential revenues from taxation once cannabis is legalized across Canada next July. Source
  • Retired Mountie headed to U.S. prison for smuggling narwhal tusks

    Canada News CTV News
    BANGOR, Maine -- A retired Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer accused of smuggling narwhal tusks has been sentenced to five years and two months in U.S. prison. Prosecutors say Gregory Logan, of Saint John, N.B. Source