Airline Probes Jet Grounded in Somalia With Hole in Fuselage

  • Authorities investigating fire that spurred emergency landing
  • Passenger says he heard `big bang' before smoke erupted

Daallo Airlines said an investigation is being conducted into why a passenger jet was forced to make an emergency landing in Somalia’s capital, after photographs were published showing a large hole in the aircraft’s fuselage.

Flight D3 bound for neighboring Djibouti returned to Mogadishu’s airport shortly after take-off on Tuesday following an unspecified incident, the Dubai-based carrier said in a statement on its Facebook page. The aircraft was carrying 74 passengers, all of whom were evacuated safely, it said.

“A thorough investigation is being conducted by Somalia Civil Aviation Authority,” the airline said. The Associated Press reported Wednesday that officials at that organization have found no evidence so far of a criminal act.

The Daallo Airlines plane returned to Mogadishu’s airport after a bang was heard on board and a fire erupted, Somali Air Transport Minister Ali Ahmed Jama told reporters in the city. Voice of America’s Somali-language website published photos showing a large hole in the aircraft’s fuselage close to its right wing. The minister said there was damage to the plane’s wing and inside it.

‘Big Bang’

Awale Kulane, a Somali ambassador who was on board, said he heard a “big bang and then smoke erupted” before he saw two people injured, at least one of them with burns.

“When the plane landed, we started walking toward the hole to look,” he said Wednesday in an interview in Mogadishu. “If somebody was sitting in that seat, I’m sure that person would be unable to survive.” Kulane said he couldn’t be sure if it was a “real explosion” because he isn’t “an expert on this kind of situation.”

Somalia’s government, backed by African Union peacekeepers, has been battling an insurgency by al-Qaeda-linked militants for the past decade. While the Islamist fighters have lost control of large swathes of territory they previously held in southern and central parts of the country, they continue to carry out attacks in Mogadishu.

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