Escaped crocodile causes plane crash

22nd Oct 2010

An escaped crocodile caused a plane crash in the Democratic Republic of Congo that killed 20 passengers and crew, including the pilot.

The small plane was thrown off balance by passengers scrambling towards the cockpit to avoid the reptile, which had been smuggled onboard in a sports bag.

The accident happened on 25 August 2010, but the reason has only now emerged as there was one sole survivor.

A report by news organisation Jeune Afrique stated: “According to the inquiry report and the testimony of the only survivor, the crash happened because of a panic sparked by the escape of a crocodile hidden in a sports bag.

“One of the passengers had hidden the animal, which he planned to sell, in a big sports bag, from which the reptile escaped as the plane began its descent into Bandundu.


“The terrified air hostess hurried towards the cockpit, followed by the passengers.”

The Let L-410 Turbolet crashed despite no apparent mechanical problems during an internal flight from the capital, Kinshasa, to Bandundu regional airport.

First Officer Chris Wilson, 39, from Gloucestershire, died alongside Belgian pilot Danny Philemotte, 62, when the twin-engined plane crashed into a house a few hundred metres from its destination.

The crocodile survived the crash before being cut up with a machete.

The occupants of the property the plane crashed into were away.

First Officer Wilson’s mother Jean, 78, paid tribute to her son in her local paper.

She said: “He loved flying and he worked hard to fulfil his dream of becoming a pilot. He had three jobs at once just to pay for his training. He absolutely adored flying.”

“I’m very proud of him for working so hard. He loved life and did everything he could to achieve his dream.”

The plane was a Czech-made Let L-410 Turbolet, one of more than 1,100 produced as short-range transport aircraft and used mainly for passenger services.



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