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Africa

Ethiopian plane in deadly Somalia crash

Four killed as military cargo plane reportedly carrying weapons for AU peacekeepers crashes while landing in Mogadishu.

Last Modified: 09 Aug 2013 18:31
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An Ethiopian military plane has crash-landed and burst into flames at Somalia's Mogadishu airport, killing four crew members.

The plane belonged to the Ethiopian airforce and sources said it was carrying weapons and ammunition for AMISOM, the peacekeeping mission in Somalia run by the African Union, when it crashed early on Friday. 

"It was a military cargo plane and there were six crew on board," said a security official, who asked not to be named.

An African Union official said two crew members were rescued by emergency personnel and were being treated in the AU military hospital near the base.

AMISOM confirmed on its Twitter feed that the wrecked aircraft belonged to the Ethiopian airforce.

"The [AU] force commander expresses his heartfelt condolences to the government and the people of Ethiopia following the loss of crew members," AMISOM tweeted. 

'Burning like hell'

Nick Kay, the UN special representative to Somalia, offered his condolences for the "tragic crash".

A thick tower of smoke was seen billowing up from the crash scene and the airport was closed.

Small blasts could be heard from the stricken plane and airport workers said they believed they were caused by exploding ammunition.

"We hear explosions as it burns. It is burning like hell. It is sure it will end up in ash," one security source at the airport told the Reuters news agency.

The source said the blaze was so intense firefighting crews were unable to tackle it.

Mucahit Salih Duran, head of the Turkish Red Crescent delegation in Somalia, tweeted a photo showing black smoke rising from what appeared to be a runway.

Ridwan Haji Abdiweli, a Somalian government spokesman, said the plane suffered difficulties on landing.

He said there "was nothing to indicate any external interference", referring to the possibility of an attack.

Ethiopia sent troops into south-west Somalia in 2011 to fight Al-Shabab fighters, alongside the AMISOM force.

The Ethiopian government confirmed the accident on Friday afternoon but said the exact cause of the accident was subject to an investigation.

Air traffic has increased significantly at the airport as Mogadishu continues on a slow recovery from decades of warfare. Two major international carriers - Turkish Airlines and Air Uganda - operate direct flights into Mogadishu.

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Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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