Somalia plane explosion: Bomb 'probably' caused blast that saw man 'sucked to his death' through hole in jet

No group is known to have claimed responsibility for the apparent attack but US officials believe Al Shabaab is responsible

Caroline Mortimer
Wednesday 03 February 2016 18:49 GMT
Somalia: Alleged bomb explosion on plane forces passengers to evacuate mid-air

The explosion which caused a man to be sucked to his death through a hole in a Somalian plane was probably caused by a bomb, US government officials have said.

An onboard explosion killed the man, injured two others and forced the Airbus A321 flight to return to the Somalian capital of Mogadishu and make an emergency landing.

Unnamed officials have said it was likely to have been caused by a bomb - saying it was likely to have been planted by the terror group Al Shabaab - but said there was little "hard" forensic evidence and no group has claimed responsibility so far.

The pilot on the Daallo Airlines flight from Mogadishu to Djibouti was able to safely land the plane using the undamaged controls despite the lost of air pressure on board.

Local authorities said the body of a 55-year-old man, believed to have been sucked out of hole created in the fuselage, was found 30km north of Mogadishu.

Al Shabaab, the Somali Islamist group waging an insurgency against the Western-backed Somalian government, has not commented.

It is active in the region and has carried out regular attacks on state and civillian targets as well as being responsible for other terror attacks in the region - such as the Nairobi mall massacre in 2013.

The pilot believes there was an explosion caused by a bomb

Daallo Airlines, the national carrier of neighbouring Dijbouti, released a statement on their website referring to it as an "incident".

It said: "Pilots managed to land the aircraft back (in) Mogadishu Airport safely and without any further incident. All passengers, except one, disembarked safely".

The statement said the airline were looking into "the cause of one missing passenger".

An agent for Daallo, Mohamed Hussein, claimed a "fire had erupted" on board but images show the plane with a hole in the fuselage over one wing.

Experts have said flammable objects are not usually put in aeroplanes and oxygen bottles - which some have suggested may have caused the explosion - tend to catch fire rather than explode.

The plane's Serbian pilot Vladimir Vodopivec, 64, told Belgrade newspaper Blic that he thought it was a bomb.

The hole seen from inside the aircraft

He said: "It was my first bomb; I hope it will be the last.

"Something like this has never happened in my flight career. We lost pressure in the cabin. Thank god it ended well."

The blast happened at around 11,000ft and Mr Vodopivec said it would have been "much worse" if it had been higher.

Additional reporting by Reuters

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