Plane crashes off Comoros, all 29 on board survive
MORONI (Reuters) - A plane crashed in the Indian Ocean off the Comoros Islands on Tuesday after suffering mechanical problems, but all 29 people on board survived, officials said.
The Embraer jet went down about 200 meters from Moroni airport, five minutes after taking off at about 1020 GMT, they said. The plane, belonging to Inter-Iles, had been bound for the neighboring island of Anjouan.
A senior military official who gave his name only as Zarouk and was on board the plane, said 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.
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. 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.
(Reporting by Ahmed Ali Amir; Editing by George Obulutsa and Pravin Char)