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Jet lands safely after mid-air explosion tears hole in its fuselage

A Somalian jet has made an emergency landing at the country's Mogadishu International Airport after an explosion tore a hole in its fuselage minutes after take-off. The country's aviation officials say two people were injured in the incident but none killed — although there have been unconfirmed reports that one person fell out of the hole in the plane. The cause of the explosion is not yet known, but aviation experts and the plane's pilot have suggested it was a bomb.

The jet's 74 passengers and crew were safely evacuated after landing, with video footage from inside the cabin showing a remarkably calm atmosphere following the explosion. Awale Kullane, Somalia’s deputy ambassador to the UN, was on board the flight, and said in a Facebook post that was later removed that he "heard a loud noise and couldn’t see anything but smoke for a few seconds." When the smoke cleared the passengers saw that "quite a chunk" of the plane — an Airbus A321 — was missing.

Aviation experts have suggested that either a bomb or pressurization blowout could have caused the explosion. However, pictures of the craft appear to show soot around the ripped fuselage, which would not be created by a blowout. Reports also say that the explosion took place before the plane had reached maximum pressurization height of 30,000 feet — further evidence that a blowout was not to blame.

"I think it was a bomb," said the plane's pilot, 64-year-old Vladimir Vodopivec in comments published in Belgrade daily Blic and translated by the Associated Press. "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."