Air France flight almost crashed into active volcano in Africa while trying to avoid storms

It avoided Mount Cameroon - one of Africa's highest peaks at 13,250ft

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The Independent Travel

An Air France passenger jet almost crashed into a volcano in a journey across central Africa, it has been revealed.

Disaster was averted when alarms sounded in the cockpit telling pilots to “pull up” as they neared Mount Cameroon on 2 May.

None of the 37 people on board were injured during the incident and the plane landed safely.

Officials from French air authority the BEA have opened an investigation into the incident, which is has been classified as “controlled flight toward terrain”.

Flight AF953 had been travelling from Malabo, the capital of Equatorial Guinea, to Douala in Cameroon on the first leg of its journey to Paris.

It took off in the dark at 7.51pm local time in bad weather, which forced the pilots to change their usual course to avoid a thunderstorm.

A spokesperson for Air France said the Boeing 777-200 was at cruising altitude when the diversion took its “trajectory close to Mount Cameroon”.

The active volcano, which last erupted in 2012, stands at more than 13,250ft and is the highest point in central Africa.

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People run from a lava flow on Mount Cameroon as it erupts in 1999

When its proximity was detected by the plane’s warning system, an alarm sounded in the cockpit and the pilots immediately pulled up.

An initial report by the BEA said the aircraft had been turning right towards Douala at the time and ascended quickly from 9,000ft to 13,000ft to avoid crashing.

The flight continued on to its destination without any further incidents and landed at 8.35pm.

A spokesperson for Air France said the manoeuvre was carried out in line with training and Boeing guidance.

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Air France has started its own investigation

“Air France's priority is to ensure the highest safety standards in all circumstances,” he added.

“Air France has always chosen the best equipment for flight safety and places great importance on the monitoring of its crews.”

The company, which is part of one of the biggest airline groups in the world, said an internal investigation was being conducted.

Precautionary measures have been brought in on the route, including giving crews additional information on the terrain around Douala and supporting the affected pilots.

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