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.
Somalia’s civil aviation director, Abdiwahid Omar, told the state radio website 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 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.” The officer, who asked not to be named, told Reuters the man was about 55 years old.
“He dropped when the explosion occurred in the plane,” he said.
Daallo Airlines said on its Facebook page on Tuesday 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 passengers were safely evacuated. The airline had no immediate additional comment on Wednesday.
Mohamed Hussein, an agent for Daallo, had told Reuters on Tuesday a “fire had exploded” and two passengers were slightly wounded.
Aviation website www.airlive.net 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 just two of the 74 passengers being injured.
Daallo flies to several destinations in the Horn of Africa and the Middle East, its website showed.