All 29 aboard an Embraer-E120ER Brasilia turboprop survived a ditching off the Comoros Islands near Mozambique Tuesday; one passenger, a military officer, told Reuters he saw fuel leaking out of the aircraft “like an open tap” after takeoff. The aircraft, a T-tail low wing, was operated by Inter-Iles Air, carrying 25 passengers and four crew. It departed Prince Said Ibrahim International Airport just after 1 p.m. local time and impacted the waters of the Indian Ocean less than 1000 feet from the coast and three miles north of the airport. Local fishermen were on scene and affected rescue of all the aircraft’s occupants. Early reports suggest crew members were aware of a problem.
First reports state that the crew radioed that they were experiencing an unspecified problem and requested a return to the airport but lost altitude in a turn and touched down in the water. According to the local aviation authority, the aircraft had passed an inspection earlier in the month. One early report states that a passenger said one engine failed before the aircraft lost altitude. Another states that the crew was made aware of the fuel leak and decided to attempt a return to the airport. Time and further investigation should provide more clarity, but as the aircraft turned back for the airport it lost altitude and successfully ditched. Multiple sources did not agree on the number of injuries, which may have included two people who suffered minor injuries, including the flight’s pilot.