Man ‘sucked to death’ after blast blows hole in Somali jet

MOGADISHU: Investigators believe a bomb probably caused the onboard explosion that forced an Airbus A321 to return to the Somali capital of Mogadishu for an emergency landing this week, US government sources said.

One man was killed by the blast on Tuesday on the Daallo Airlines plane, officials said. Local authorities north of Mogadishu said the body of a man, believed to have been sucked out through the hole in the fuselage made by the blast, was found in their area.

The US sources said on condition of anonymity that hard forensic evidence was lacking and no group is known to have claimed responsibility for the blast. There was no immediate comment from al-Shabaab, the Somali militant group that has waged an insurgency against the country’s Western-backed government, Washington Post reported.

It has regularly carried out attacks on officials, government offices and civilian sites.

Daallo Airlines, which did not refer to a blast, said on its website that the “incident” that caused a hole in the fuselage happened when the plane was 15 minutes into the flight.

“Pilots managed to land the aircraft back (in) Mogadishu Airport safely and without any further incident. All passengers, except one, disembarked safely,” it said, adding an investigation into “the cause of one missing passenger” was on.

Two other passengers were taken to hospital with minor injuries, it added.

“The investigation goes on,” Somali civil aviation director Abdiwahid Omar said on the state radio website.

The Serbian pilot of the flight from Mogadishu to Djibouti has said he thought the blast, which ripped the fuselage from inside to out, had been an explosive device, according to reports in the Serbian newspaper Blic.

Pilot Vladimir Vodopivec, 64, told a friend he thought it was “a bomb”.

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