Friday, 7 December 2012

Pictured: Stowaway who fell thousands of feet onto London street after clinging to plane's landing gear

Unidentified: The man is believed to be African and aged between 20 and 30 years old

Astonishing: The body of the man, thought to be a stowaway in his 30s and from North Africa, was found on a car parked in a residential road near London Heathrow Airport and later taken away by authorities

Detectives are releasing images of a man they wish to identify after his body fell from the under carriage of an incoming flight to Heathrow airport.

Police were called to Portman Avenue, Mortlake, which lies on the south bank of the Thames, at 8am on Sunday, September 9, following reports that a body had fallen from the sky.
Distinctive: Police hope this tattoo may help identify the man who fell from the sky

The man has never been identified, but he is believed to be African and aged between 20 and 30 years old.

The police today released two images of the man, after 'substantial inquiries' failed to identify the man.

It is thought the man’s body dropped from the aircraft undercarriage as the plane came in to land.

Aviation experts say the man was probably dead before he hit the ground either because he had been crushed by the retracting landing gear shortly after the plane took off, or because of the extreme cold at high altitude.

The man, who was 5 feet 4 inches tall and of slight build, was not a member of air crew or a passenger.

At the time, residents on the tree-lined road in Mortlake, which is less than ten miles from the airport, spoke of their shock on finding the body after hearing a loud bang.

One said: '‘It is unbelievable. The first thing I thought when I saw the body was that it must have fallen from quite a height.'

Location: Home: The only evidence left on the scene in Mortlake, south west London, was dark smears on the pavement where the blood was cleared up

A post-mortem was held at Kingston Hospital Mortuary on September 11 and gave the cause of death as multiple injuries.

A spokesman said: 'It is possible he was from Angola as he was found with Angolan currency in his possession and inquiries have established that a flight from Luanda, Angola was overhead prior to the body being found.'

The man was wearing jeans, a grey hoody and white trainers when he fell, and he has a tattoo on his left arm of a distinctive emblem with the letters ' Z ' and 'G ' clearly visible.

A Civil Aviation Authority spokesman said a stowaway in an aircraft undercarriage was unlikely to survive as he would either be crushed by the wheels after take-off or freeze in temperatures as low as minus 40C (minus 40F).

He said: ‘The chances of survival for a stowaway are very slim, particularly in the recess of the landing gear.

‘I don’t know of anyone who has survived being stowed away on a long-haul flight.

‘When the landing gear comes down at the other end, a few miles from the runway and about 2,000ft in the air, if there is a person who had died they would fall out.’

The discovery came just over a fortnight after the body of a stowaway was found in the landing gear recess of a BA plane arriving at Heathrow from Cape Town.

Anyone with information is asked to call officers on 020 8247 7254 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

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