Newcastle United star was 'within half an hour of dying' after 'deadly' flight experience

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Newcastle United's summer signing had a near-death experience while on international duty.

Newcastle United's Yankuba Minteh was 'within half an hour of dying' alongside his Gambia teammates when their plane's oxygen supply failed on its way to AFCON.

The 19-year-old was travelling with his national squad from their capital city of Banjul to the African Cup of Nations in the Ivory Coast when their travel was disrupted by a terrifying problem.

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Newcastle United winger Yankuba Minteh is on loan at Feyenoord. (Photo by OLAF KRAAK/ANP/AFP via Getty Images)Newcastle United winger Yankuba Minteh is on loan at Feyenoord. (Photo by OLAF KRAAK/ANP/AFP via Getty Images)
Newcastle United winger Yankuba Minteh is on loan at Feyenoord. (Photo by OLAF KRAAK/ANP/AFP via Getty Images)

Minteh joined the Magpies last summer in a deal worth £7million from Danish club Odense Boldklub before being immediately loaned to Feyenoord for the 2023-24 campaign.

The aircraft's pilot was forced to make an emergency landing after just nine minutes after several players passed out due to a lack of oxygen.

Former Manchester United player Saidy Janko was on board the plane and shared a video to social media of the Gambia team getting off the plane.

"Unacceptable," he wrote. "After travelling 32 hours in total from Saudi Arabia (Training Camp) to The Gambia with long layovers in Istanbul and Casablanca, we were supposed to fly from Gambia to Ivory Coast for the AFCON today.

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"As soon as we entered the small plane that was hired to fly us, we noticed the immense heat that left us dripping in sweat.

"It was assured to us by the crew that the air conditioning would start once we are in the sky.

"The inhumane heat mixed with the occurring lack of oxygen left many people with strong headaches and extreme dizziness.

"Furthermore, people starting falling deeply asleep minutes after entering the aircraft/takeoff.

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"Whilst in the air, the situation got worse, leaving the pilot with no other option, than initiating an emergency landing back in Banjul airport nine minutes after takeoff. Which happened successfully.

"If it wasn't for this, the consequences could have been a lot worse!!! knowing what could have happened, if we would have been exposed to the situation any longer- in an airplane, running out of oxygen.

"We are grateful that everyone is feeling well but this is a situation that has to be addressed going into the AFCON, as being only one of our obstacles on international duty. This is unacceptable and such has to cease with immediate effect."

Saidy Janko now plays for BSC Young Boys.Saidy Janko now plays for BSC Young Boys.
Saidy Janko now plays for BSC Young Boys.

The Gambia are due to play their opening Group C game on Monday against the defending champions Senegal.

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Gambia's manager, Tom Saintfiet told BBC Sport Africa: "The local crew said there was a problem with the air conditioning before we took off but that it would be all fine when we took off. After a few minutes, it was very hot in the plane.

"We all fell asleep because there was a lack of oxygen - some of the players couldn't be woken up. The pilot noticed and we had to return.

"People got headaches and if the flight had gone on for another 30 minutes, the whole team would have died. The strange thing is that the oxygen masks didn't come out - it's good that the pilot realised that this was a deadly situation and so turned back. But we are still in shock."

The Gambian Football Federation released a statement which read: "The Chartered Flight carrying the Scorpions to the African Cup of Nations has returned to Banjul due to technical problems.

"The flight was nine minutes airborne when the crew realised and immediately requested to return to Banjul."

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