Sunday 22 January 2017

Stowaway who clung on to plane as it flew almost 13,000 kilometres from South Africa to London dies

Published 19/06/2015 | 09:21

The victim fell on to a shop in Richmond, south west London, which is below the flight path, yesterday morning. Credit: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images
The victim fell on to a shop in Richmond, south west London, which is below the flight path, yesterday morning. Credit: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

A stowaway has plunged to his death from a plane and landed on a shop in a high street - while another is in hospital after surviving the fall.

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The two men are believed to have clung on to a British Airways plane as it flew more than 8,000 miles (12,875KM) from Johannesburg in South Africa to Heathrow.

The victim fell on to a shop in Richmond, south west London, which is below the flight path, yesterday morning.

A Scotland Yard spokeswoman said: "We were called at 9.35am on Thursday 18 June to Kew Road, Richmond, to reports of a body discovered.

"Officers and the London Ambulance Service attended and found the body of a dead man on the roof of a business premises. The death is currently being treated as unexplained.

"A post- mortem examination will be held in due course and inquiries are ongoing to establish the male's identity. No arrests have been made.

"In regards to the male who survived, police were alerted at 8.28am on 18 June to reports of a suspected stowaway on a flight from Johannesburg to Heathrow.

"The man, aged believed to be between 25 to 30, has been taken to a west London hospital and currently remains in a serious condition. Inquiries are ongoing to establish the man's identity."

A British Airways spokeswoman said: "We are working with the Metropolitan Police and the authorities in Johannesburg to establish the facts surrounding this very rare case."

While rare, there have been other cases when stowaways have plunged to their deaths in the leafy streets of west London after smuggling themselves on to planes.

They hide themselves in the landing gear where they are exposed to the elements and have to endure plummeting temperatures. Most are killed by the cold and lack of oxygen at high altitudes.

In September 2012, Jose Matada, 26, died after falling from the undercarriage of a Heathrow-bound flight from Angola on to a quiet street in Mortlake, west London.

An inquest into his death heard that the young man from Mozambique is believed to have survived freezing temperatures of up to minus 60C (minus 76F) for most of the 12-hour flight.

But it was believed he was "dead or nearly dead" by the time he hit the ground.

Press Association

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