JOHANNESBURG, South Africa — The Soviet pilot of Mozambique President Samora Machel's plane was isolated in a South African military hospital today after reportedly claiming that he was shot out of the sky.
His Tupolev 134-A plowed into a hill in stormy weather just inside South Africa's border with Mozambique Sunday night, killing Machel and 33 other people. Ten passengers survived.
A government official said the pilot, Vladimir Nduosselov, was too ill to be interviewed, but local press reports said the pilot claimed from his hospital bed that he heard a loud noise and that he had been shot down.
South African officials rejected the suggestion as absurd and said pilot error and bad weather contributed to the crash. Some local pilots theorized that Nduosselov might have mistaken the lights of Komatipoort, a South African frontier town, for his destination, Mozambique's capital of Maputo.