A crocodile escaped from a passenger's bag sparking a stampede that caused a plane to crash, killing 19 passengers and the British pilot, according to reports.
The aircraft plummeted to the ground in the Democratic Republic of the Congo when the animal, which had been smuggled into the cabin, sparked panic among passengers, the unnamed sole survivor told African magazine Jeune Afrique.
First Officer Chris Wilson, from Gloucestershire, was among those killed when the Let-410 plane crashed on August 25.
It was travelling from Kinshasa to Bandundu when the plane went down not far from its destination in an area of straw-covered huts.
"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,” 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."
Tim Atkinson, of the Air Accidents Investigations Branch of the Department for Transport, dealing with the accident from the UK, said: "If this were the cause of the accident it is truly extraordinary.
"I would say it's extremely unlikely this story holds water but I wouldn't rule it out completely."
He added that there had been reports of passengers making their way to the front of the aircraft prior to landing, which may have led to the crash.
The crocodile survived the plane crash but was later killed with a machete by rescuers sifting through the wreckage.