London: Death could strike from anywhere — land, water, or even air. Yes, even from air.
In a bizarre incident, a stowaway fell to his death on a London shop from a British Airways flight from Johannesburg that was approaching Heathrow, while another man who also clung to the plane miraculously survived the nearly 13,000km journey.
The two men are believed to have clung on to the BA plane as it flew from Johannesburg in South Africa to Heathrow.
The victim fell on to a shop in Richmond, south-west London, which was below the flight path, on Thursday. The second man, aged between 25 and 30, is in a serious condition in a west London hospital after miraculously surviving the ordeal. He was discovered alive by staff at Heathrow.
Scotland Yard said they believe they know the identity of the second man but awaited confirmation before releasing further details.
Experts believe roughly three-quarters of stowaways do not survive if they hide on a plane’s undercarriage because of the extreme cold and lack of oxygen they experience as the plane reaches cruising altitude. Though not common, stowaways have in the past plunged to the streets of west London as planes lowered their landing gear.
In September 2012, a 30-year old from Mozambique, Jose Matada, died after falling from the undercarriage of a Heathrow-bound flight from Angola onto a street in Mortlake.
An enquiry into his death suggested he had survived freezing temperatures of up to -60 degrees Celsius for most of the 12-hour flight, but he was believed to be dead or nearly dead by the time he hit the ground.
Aviation expert Chris Yates described the latest situation as unusual because of enhanced security measures at airports meant to deter terror and other attacks. However, he noted that stowaways who survive have tended to be young people.