A passenger was sucked out of a plane at 14,000 feet after a suspected bomb blasted a hole through the side of the fuselage just five minutes after take off.
Eyewitnesses claim the badly burned body of an elderly man fell to earth about 15 miles away from Mogadishu airport.
Airline officials claim two people were hurt in the blast, which punched a six foot by three foot hole in the Airbus A321’s fuselage yesterday.
The Daallo Airlines flight from Mogadishu to Djibouti in the Horn of Africa was still able to land safely in Somalia.
The aircraft’s pilot Vladimir Vodopivec, 64, from Serbia said: ‘I think it was a bomb. Luckily, the flight controls were not damaged so I could return and land at the airport.
Something like this has never happened in my flight career. We lost pressure in the cabin. Thank god it ended well.’
A source told CNN that initial tests have shown explosive residue indicating the aircraft may have been the victim of a suspected terrorist attack.
The explosion happened as the aircraft passed between 12,000 and 14,000, before it reached its cruising altitude.
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 realised ‘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.
One of the people onboard the flight filmed the aftermath of the explosion where the remaining passengers at calmly until the aircraft returned to the airport.
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.
Aviation sources have suggested the aircraft was delayed leaving Mogadishu this afternoon meaning the suspected bomb, if it was on a timer, went off at a lower altitude, giving the passengers on board a greater chance of survival.
John Goglia, former member of the US National Transportation Safety Board member said only a bomb or a pressurisation blowout caused by fatigue could cause such a hole in the side of the aircraft.
However, the black soot around the hole would indicate a bomb.
He said the incident happened before the aircraft hit its cruising altitude which would reduce the possibility of a pressurisation event.
He added: ‘We don’t know a lot, but certainly it looks like a device.’
– Dailymail UK