Passengers aboard a flight over Somalia on Tuesday had a lucky escape when an explosion ripped a chunk out of the aircraft’s fuselage. Daallo Airlines Flight D3159 had left Mogadishu Airport minutes before passengers reported hearing a loud bang which they said sounded like an explosion.
Serbian national Vladimir Vodopivec was piloting the plane and he told newspaper reporters from his own country that it sounded like a bomb had exploded. He continued by saying that although the aircraft lost cabin pressure, the flight mechanisms were undamaged and he was able to land back in Mogadishu.
The 64-year-old said he had never had a similar experience during his long flying career. He ended up by thanking god that the incident had ended as well as it did. He noted that the fact the flight had only reached an altitude of 3,300 metres had probably saved the day.
Witnesses on the ground claim a burning man was ejected from the fuselage’s hole. Ali Mohamoud is an official with the Somali aviation authorities and he stated all of the 74 passengers and crewmembers on the flight had been accounted for. He said that two people had sustained minor injuries during the evacuation following the aircraft’s emergency landing.
The allegations that a man on fire fell out of the plane were given some credence by a report from a police officer stationed in Balad. The town is 40kms from Mogadishu Airport and the officer said locals had found the charred corpse of an elderly man.
Flight D3159 was bound for Djibouti before the blast occurred. After examining pictures of the Daallo aircraft’s gaping hole, aviation experts said it looked like it might have been made by a bomb.