Africa: Stowaway found frozen to death still clinging onto a plane wheel
A stowaway who had desperately clung to a plane as it took off from a West Africa airport was found frozen to death when it landed in Morocco.
The Royal Air Maroc flight AT526 had taken off from Conakry, the capital of Guinea, and was bound for Morocco on September 30, with connecting passengers then travelling onto France.
His limp, lifeless body was discovered early on Monday morning by ground staff at Casablanca’s Mohammed V airport.
The man’s desperate attempt at illegal immigration proved immediately fatal as authorities believe he most likely did not survive the take off from Conakry. Temperatures at high altitude can plummet to as low as -63C (-81F).
Connecting passengers arrived at Paris Orly Airport to find their luggage had not made it through to France, and claim they are still waiting to get it back.
A heartbreaking video shows the man’s body hanging from the plane’s landing gear compartment while airport staff stand on the runway observing the scene.
A passenger said she had been ‘shocked’ to find out what had happened during her flight.
Camille Sarazin, from Paris, France, visited Conakry on a business trip and had been on the return leg of her journey.
‘I was shocked to find out what happened during the flight,’ she told MailOnline.
‘I didn’t know people tried to leave their country that way. It’s very dangerous.
‘I feel very sad for him and his family.’
Ms Sarazin said passengers were unaware of the incident and were not informed as to why their luggage had not made it through to their final destination.
‘When I arrived in Paris, my luggage was missing, as well as the luggage of all the passengers arriving from Guinea – I’m still waiting for it,’ she said.
‘A friend from Conakry later texted me an article. Apparently a man died during take off at Conakry airport after trying to leave the country illegally.’
She added that the incident had made her question airport security measures after the man had managed to attach himself onto the plane without staff noticing.
This is not the first time stowaways have been killed after hiding themselves on a plane.
In June, a dead stowaway fell from a Heathrow-bound flight into a south London garden.
The man is thought to have frozen to death in the wheel arch of the Kenyan Airways flight before plunging 3,500ft. Kenyan officials said the man was most likely an airport worker who used his pass to skirt security.
The corpse landed just 3ft away from Oxford graduate John Baldock as he was sunbathing in the garden of his house in Clapham.
Figures from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) show that between January 2004 and March 2015, six stowaways were found on aircraft at UK airports.
Hiding in an aircraft’s undercarriage proves fatal in an estimated three out of four cases.
Risks include being crushed by landing gear, dying from oxygen deprivation in the unpressurised wheel well, or freezing to death as temperatures can drop to as low as -63C (-81F) as a plane ascends, causing hypothermia.
Those who survive the ascent risk falling to their deaths when the landing gear compartment is opened for landing.
The plight of migrants trying to reach Europe by sea is also a desperate one, with new figures showing more than 1,000 migrants having died in the Mediterranean Sea this year.
This marks the sixth year in a row that that ‘bleak milestone’ has been reached, the United Nations refugee agency said on Tuesday.
‘UNHCR is urgently calling for an increase in search and rescue capacity, including a return of EU state vessels to search and rescue operations, and an acknowledgement of the crucial role of NGO boats in saving lives at sea,’ UNHCR spokesman Charlie Yaxley said in a statement.
At least 15,000 people have lost their lives in Mediterranean crossings since 2014, the U.N.’s International Organization for Migration (IOM) said.