Last updated: 11:59 AM ET, Fri June 19 2015

Suspected Stowaway Dies After Falling From British Airways Flight Over London

Impacting Travel | Patrick Clarke | June 19, 2015

Suspected Stowaway Dies After Falling From British Airways Flight Over London

A stowaway died after falling from a British Airways flight toward the end of an 11-hour, 8,000-mile flight from South Africa to London on Thursday.

According to Britain's ITV News, another stowaway, who was also traveling in the plane's wheel well, survived the international flight and was being treated at a nearby hospital after being discovered unconscious at London Heathrow Airport. Roughly an hour after receiving reports of the suspected stowaway at Heathrow on Thursday morning, authorities were alerted to a body that was found on the roof of a clothing company building in West London.

"We are working with the Metropolitan Police and the authorities in Johannesburg to establish the facts surrounding this very rare case," said a British Airways spokesperson via ITV News.

The business where the victim's body was discovered also issued a statement via ITV News confirming that the incident "is unrelated to the business or its team members."

"The death is currently being treated as unexplained but early indications are that the body may be that of an airline stowaway."

Meanwhile, a spokesman for the company that operates OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, where the British Airways flight departed from, told ITV News that security agents at the airport are working with local police to find out more. 

He also said that the surviving stowaway is thought to be a male aged between 25 and 30, though his nationality remains unknown. 

Traveling inside the wheel well of a commercial jetliner is extremely dangerous. Stowaways riding in the non-pressurized area are often subjected to freezing temperatures and insufficient oxygen. There have been several similar incidents over the past year, including one stowaway who flew across Indonesia in the wheel well of a Garuda Indonesia flight, and a teenager who stowed away in a wheel well on a flight to Maui.

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