The fingerprints of a man whose frozen body fell into a garden in London from the landing gear of a Kenya Airways plane are being analysed after being sent by British police to Nairobi, where investigators suspect he may have been an airport employee.
A bag, water and some food were discovered in the landing gear compartment after the flight arrived at Heathrow on Sunday. The man’s body was found in a garden in Clapham, south London, shortly before 3.40pm that day.
The director general of the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority, Gilbert Kibe, told the BBC: “Whoever it is most likely had access to the airside, because with the way security is tight, it’s unlikely that an outsider would have been able to make his way through to the airside where an aeroplane is parked and be able to climb in. I’m suspecting it’s probably somebody who had access to the airside.”
He added that the captain or first officer would normally walk around the plane and check the undercarriage thoroughly before takeoff.
Asked about the security concerns the breach raised, he said: “That problem exists globally everywhere, it cannot be isolated to one airport.”
A review of all CCTV coverage on flight KQ100 over the 24 hours before departure has been continuing, the Kenya Airports Authority said on Wednesday. All staff who came into contact with the plane are also being questioned.
“Due to the large amount of data to be analysed, we request for your patience to enable due diligence to be followed,” the KAA said.
A postmortem is due to be carried out on the body, which was said by a neighbour to have landed a metre away from a resident who had been sunbathing.
A plane spotter who had been following the flight on an aircraft tracking app saw the body fall and arrived at the scene in time to give this information to the police.
A neighbour said she and her husband had heard a noise but thought at first it was collapsing scaffolding, before they learned what had happened and saw the man’s remains.
“We need to be grateful that no one on the ground was killed or hurt, but I think that the real focus now needs to be on why this man was so desperate that he felt that he had to do this,” she said, adding that police had told her the body was frozen to the touch.
Four years ago, the body of Carlito Vale from Mozambique was found on the roof of a west London office building below the Heathrow flight path.
Another man was found unconscious in the undercarriage of the same British Airways plane, having survived freezing temperatures over the 8,000-mile (12,800km) flight from Johannesburg to London.
Stowaways risk being crushed or burned by the wheels as soon as they are retracted after takeoff. At cruising altitudes of more than 35,000ft, oxygen deprivation can kill people hidden in the unpressurised wheel well. As temperatures plunge to -55C (-67F), stowaways often die of hypothermia.