One confirmed dead after explosion on plane

From inside the plane - scene of the blast

A man was killed in an explosion on an Airbus A321 that made a hole in the fuselage and forced the plane to return to the Somali capital of Mogadishu to make an emergency landing, officials said on Wednesday.

Somalia’s civil aviation director, Abdiwahid Omar, told the state radio website that a person was missing after the Daallo Airlines plane landed on Tuesday and the body had been found.

“The investigation goes on,” Omar said, without mentioning any explosion or what had forced the plane to return except to say there was a “sudden defect” reported by the captain.

Local authorities in the Balcad area, about 30 km (19 miles) north of Mogadishu, said the body of a man, believed to have been sucked out of the plane, was found in the area.

A police officer at Mogadishu airport said, “The dead body of the passenger is being transported to Mogadishu.”

“He dropped when the explosion occurred in the plane,” he said.

Daallo Airlines said on its Facebook page on Tuesday that the plane, operated by Hermes Airlines, took off from Mogadishu and was bound for Djibouti with 74 passengers on board before it “experienced an incident” that forced it to return.

It had said all the passengers were evacuated safely. The airline had no immediate additional comment on Wednesday.

Mohamed Hussein, an agent for Daallo, had told Reuters on Tuesday that a “fire had exploded” and two passengers were slightly wounded.

Aviation website said witnesses heard a loud bang. Images of the plane showed a hole in the fuselage over one of the wings.

A source familiar with the investigation said flammable objects are not usually put in that place in an aircraft, though some reports suggested an oxygen bottle may be involved.

However, safety experts say oxygen bottles usually catch fire rather than exploding. Photographs did not show significant damage to overhead panels where such bottles are usually kept.

Experts have praised the actions of the crew in landing the plane with two of the 74 passengers being injured.

Daallo flies to several destinations in the Horn of Africa and the Middle East, its website showed.