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Crocodile Escape Caused Plane Crash Killing 20 People In Congo

A crocodile escaped from the sports bag of a passenger inside a Let L-410 Turbolet plane causing stampede inside the aircraft, which led to the crash  on August 25 just before the plane was to
PTI October 22, 2010 10:26 IST
PTI
A crocodile escaped from the sports bag of a passenger inside a Let L-410 Turbolet plane causing stampede inside the aircraft, which led to the crash  on August 25 just before the plane was to land, it was revealed on Thursday, reports Daily Mail, London

A British co-pilot and 19 others on board perished in the crash. The small plane was thrown off balance by a stampede of passengers trying to avoid the reptile.



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

It has only now emerged that a lone survivor apparently told investigators about the crocodile.

The Let L-410 Turbolet came down despite no apparent mechanical problems during an internal flight from the capital, Kinshasa, to Bandundu regional airport on August 25.

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 plane was then sent off-balance 'despite the desperate efforts of the pilot', said the report.'The crocodile survived the crash before being cut up with a machete.'The occupants of the property the plane crashed into were away.

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.

'There have been so many messages from people he has known through the years. We didn't realise so many people cared for him.'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.