Serbian pilot lands passenger plane after midair explosion

Pilot Vladimir Vodopivec on February 2 managed to safely land a commercial aircraft after an explosion ripped off a part of its fuselage near the right wing.

Source: Blic, Tanjug
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(Image made from YouTube video)
(Image made from YouTube video)

Daily Blic said the pilot is a 64-year-old Belgrader who in the past worked for Serbia's Jat Airways and Montenegro Airlines, and now flies for Daallo Airlines.

According to Somali media, the plane had 74 passengers, including 70 Turkish nations. It had to make an emergency landing several minutes after taking off from Mogadishu, on its way to Djibouti.

Airport officials said initially said all passengers and crew survived the incident, but that at least three passengers suffering light injuries. On Wednesday, authorities of Somalia's Balad region said the body had been found of a man believed to have been a passenger on the plane who fell out during the explosion.

Villagers in Balad previously said they saw the blast as the plane was passing overhead and "a burned body fall off it."

The Blic website is quoting Vodopivec as "telling his friend in Belgrade" that "a horrific explosion" was heard when the plane reached 3,300 meters.

"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," Vodopivec said, according to the website.

The report also said that Somali minister of transportation stated the cause of the explosion would be determined by an investigation, and that it was unclear at this time whether it was caused by a technical problem or a bomb.

Te media speculate that it was "a suicide attack" and that "the bomb was probably brought in by one of the passengers."

According to the Aviation Herald website, the airline confirmed an explosion on board the aircraft, saying the cause is under investigation and that an oxygen bottle is suspected.

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