Experts say bomb likely ripped hole in plane over Somalia

by Onize Ohikere
Posted 2/03/16, 11:40 am

A commercial airliner with more than 70 passengers onboard made an emergency landing minutes after takeoff from Somalia when an explosion blew a hole in its side.

The plane, operated by Daallo Airlines, was headed for Djibouti on Tuesday but barely made it out of Somalia’s Mogadishu airport when the explosion occurred. The blast injured two passengers, and Somali authorities are trying to confirm reports that one man fell from the plane.

Passengers said they heard a loud bang before seeing the hole just above one of the plane’s wings.

“I think it was a bomb,” said the pilot of the Airbus A321, Vladimir Vodopivec. “Luckily, the flight controls were not damaged so I could return and land in the airport.”

Daallo Airlines operates from the United Arab Emirates and runs flights to Djibouti, Somalia, Kenya, and Saudi Arabia. Somali aviation officials moved the plane to a private hangar and are currently carrying out an investigation to determine what caused the explosion. Ali Mohamoud, an aviation official at the Mogadishu airport, said foreign technical experts are assisting in the investigation. A preliminary report will be issued later this week. But experts say a bomb likely caused the explosion.

Kirk Koening, president of Expert Aviation Consulting, said a hole in a plane would only result from metal fatigue caused by pressurization in the plane or a bomb.

“Every once in a while, you get a metal fatigue on the skin of an airplane, but you get a clean tear when that happens,” Koening said. “The jaggedness of the tear suggests it’s likely a bomb. That’s something that has exploded out from the inside.”

Somalia has been subject to attacks by Islamic extremist group al-Shabaab in recent years. The group took responsibility for a restaurant-hotel attack that left 20 dead and 17 injured in January.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Onize Ohikere

Onize is a reporter for WORLD Digital based in Abuja, Nigeria.

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