A stowaway crocodile on a flight escaped from its carrier bag and sparked an on board stampede that caused the flight to crash, killing 19 passengers and crew.
The croc had been hidden in a passenger’s sports bag – allegedly with plans to sell it – but it tore loose and ran amok, sparking panic.A stampede of terrified passengers caused the small aircraft to lose balance and tip over in mid-air during an internal flight in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The unbalanced load caused the aircraft, on a routine flight from the capital, Kinshasa, to the regional airport at Bandundu, to go into a spin and crash into a house.
A lone survivor from the Let 410 plane told the astonishing tale to investigators.
Ironically the crocodile also survived the crash but was later killed with a machete by rescuers sifting through the wreckage.
British pilot Chris Wilson, 39, from Shurdington, near Cheltenham, Glocs was acting as the plane’s first officer alongside Belgian pilot Danny Philemotte, 62, who was owner of the plane’s operator Filair.
The plane smashed into an empty house just a few hundred metres from its destination.
“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,” news organisation Jeune Afrique reported.
“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 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.