Twenty-nine people have survived after the plane they were travelling in crashed into the Indian Ocean, minutes after it took off from the Comoros, a chain of islands off the south-east coast of Africa.
The Embraer jet suffered mechanical problems about 200m away from Moroni airport from where it chartered, officials said.
Abu Mohamed Ali, director general of Civil Aviation for the Comoros Islands, said all 29 people on board – 25 passengers and four crew – were safe.
The pilot suffered head injuries while the rest were unhurt.
The plane, belonging to Inter-Iles, had been bound for the neighbouring island of Anjouan.
A senior military official who gave his name only as Zarouk and was on board the plane, said the aircraft fuel was leaking “like an open tap” upon take-off.
He alerted the pilot who decided to return to the airport, but was unable to land in time, instead plunging into the sea.
Fishermen appeared to have led the search-and-rescue operation.
In June 2009, a Yemeni Airbus 310-300 plunged into the Indian Ocean in bad weather off the Comoros archipelago, killing 152 people who were on board.