A crocodile stashed in a duffel bag got loose on an airplane, frightened passengers and led to a crash that killed 20 people on board, according to an inquiry into the accident.
The lone survivor of the crash in the Democratic Republic of Congo told the story to investigators, the U.K.’s Telegraph reported on Thursday. A British pilot was among the dead.
The plane was on a routine domestic flight from the capital of Kinshasa to a regional airport in Bandundu when the bizarre tale unfolded on Aug. 25.
An unnamed passenger had hidden the crocodile in a large duffel bag with the intent of selling the reptile, according to the Telegraph. The animal escaped as the plane approached its destination.
"The terrified air hostess hurried towards the cockpit, followed by the passengers," a report obtained by the Telegraph said. The plane then became unstable, "despite the desperate efforts of the pilot."
The plane crashed into a home a few hundred feet from the airport, though the people who lived in the residence were not in the house.
The crocodile reportedly survived the crash but was killed by a blow from a machete.
The aircraft belonged to Filair, a private carrier, and was a Czech-made Let L-410 twin turboprop.
At the time of the crash, media reports said the plane apparently ran out of fuel and couldn’t make a proper landing.
Congo’s domestic air service consists mainly of badly maintained Soviet-era aircraft with a dismal safety history, according to media reports. Air crashes are common in the Central African country.