A commercial airliner made an emergency landing at Mogadishu’s international airport late Tuesday after passengers heard a loud bang and a fire broke out on board, leaving a gaping hole in the fuselage, officials and witnesses said.
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.
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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.
Awale Kullane, Somalia’s alternate 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 video showing some passengers putting on oxygen masks inside the plane.
Another passenger, Mohamed Ali, told The Associated Press they 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.
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 about 18 miles north of Mogadishu.
Somalia faces an insurgency perpetrated by the Somali Islamic extremist group al-Shabab, which is responsible for many deadly attacks across the nation.