Somali officials are closely examining an explosion that ripped a hole in the side of a passenger jet on Tuesday, forcing the plane to make an emergency landing in Mogadishu, the country’s capital, instead of continuing on to Djibouti.
One person on board Daallo Airlines Flight 3159 was reportedly blown out of the hole in the blast and two others were wounded, reportedly with burns. Witnesses on the ground reported seeing the burning body of a man falling from the sky, according to local media, and Mohamed Hassan, a police officer in a town north of Mogadishu, said residents had “found the dead body of an old man,” the Telegraph reported.
There were 74 passengers and seven crew members on the flight, and Daallo Airlines confirmed all but one got off safely. “All passengers, except one, disembarked safely after aircraft landed at the airport and currently investigations are underway to ascertain the cause of one missing passenger,” the airline said in a statement.
So what the heck happened here?
It was likely a bomb
Planes, thankfully, don’t explode for no reason.
That, compounded with the soot-like explosive residue that was detected around the hole, leads to aviation watchers and Somali officials suspecting a bomb was planted on board.
The pilot, for his part, doesn’t doubt it was a bomb.
“It was my first bomb; I hope it will be the last,” Serbian captain Vlatko Vodopivec said in an interview with the Associated Press. Both the pilot and multiple passengers have reported hearing a “loud bang” before seeing smoke and fire.
This could have been much, much worse
The plane stayed intact after the blast, but that’s not always the case.
On Oct. 31, 2015, a bomb — which the Islamic State claimed responsibility for — was placed on a Metrojet plane filled with Russian citizens. The bomb was detonated when the plane reached 31,000 feet, leading to a rapid disintegration of the aircraft. A total of 224 people lost their lives, including a young girl whose body was found miles from the crash site.