Plane stowaway’s body lands next to man sunbathing in backyard


Kenya Airways plane (Björn Strey via Wikimedia Commons)

LONDON (CBS/AFP) — The body of a suspected stowaway who fell to his death from a Kenya Airways plane landed next to a man sunbathing in his garden in south-west London, a neighbor said.

Police believe the victim fell into the property in Clapham from the landing gear compartment of a plane heading to Heathrow Airport.

A neighbor told the Press Association news agency that he heard a “whomp” when the body hit the ground on Sunday afternoon, and went upstairs to look out of a window.

“At first I thought it was a tramp asleep in the garden. He had all of his clothes on and everything,” the neighbor, who asked not to be named, was quoted as saying. “One of the reasons his body was so intact was because his body was an ice block.”

“I had a closer look and saw there was blood all over the walls of the garden… His head was not in a good way. I realized immediately that he had fallen,” the neighbour said. He then went outside and saw the “very shaken” man into whose backyard the body had fallen.

“He had been sunbathing and he landed one meter away from him,” the neighbor said.

The neighbor told CBS News partner network BBC News that a hobbyist plane spotter, who had been following the flight on a plane-tracking app from nearby park Clapham Common, saw the body fall.

The plane spotter got to the house where the body fell into the garden at about the same time as the police and told them he’d seen it fall from a Kenya Airways flight.

Police said on Monday that a bag, water and some food was found in the landing gear compartment of the plane once it arrived at Heathrow.

Officers are now working to identify the victim.

Many stowaways do not survive due to the lack of oxygen and freezing temperatures in the wheel-wells of aircraft flying at high altitude.

Several bodies have been found along the Heathrow flight path in west London, according to aviation expert Alastair Rosenschein.

“The problem occurs because of lack of security at a number of airports around the world and also the immigration draw,” he told BBC radio.

“It is believed that these are primarily illegal immigrants who are trying to get into this country by climbing into the undercarriage bay of aircraft.”

A Kenya Airways spokesman told BBC News that the 4,250-mile flight from Nairobi to London takes almost nine hours.

“It is unfortunate that a person has lost his life by stowing aboard one of our aircraft and we express our condolences,” the airline said. “Kenya Airways is working closely with the relevant authorities in Nairobi and London as they fully investigate this case.”

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