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Monday, June 22, 2015

stowaway travels from South Africa to London Heathrow - 8000 miles !!

A stowaway is a person who secretly boards a vehicle, such as an aircraft, bus, ship, cargo truck or train, to travel without paying and without being detected. Cricketer Kevin Pietersen ran into fresh controversy and had to apologise after joking about a stowaway who died after falling from a flight from South Africa to London and another who was seriously injured.The former England batsman, who was born in South Africa, posted on Twitter: "Captain and opening bowler in England's WC cricket team in 2019 right there."The message was accompanied with an emoji of a face crying with laughter.

Smuggling is the illegal transportation of objects (and sometimes people too !) across varied places especially borders of a State (Country). There are variousmotives, almost all illegal and banned in civil society. Stowaway is different – thisrefers to a person who secretly boards a vehicle, such as an aircraft, bus, ship, cargotruck or train, to travel without paying and without being detected. According toIMO, the Convention on Facilitation of International Maritime Traffic, 1965, asamended, define stowaway as "A person who is secreted on a ship, or in cargowhich is subsequently loaded on the ship, without the consent of the shipowner orthe Master or any other responsible person and who is detected on board the shipafter it has departed from a port, or in the cargo while unloading it in the port ofarrival, and is reported as a stowaway by the master to the appropriate authorities".

How long and where they would hide gets redefined from time to time perhaps as this news of stowaway falling to death from jet nearer Heathrow after 11 hour long journey from South Africa – and yet another one survived !!  MailOnline and other news agencies report that a  suspected stowaway was found dead on the roof of a London office block after plunging from a jumbo jet as it approached Heathrow Airport.The man's body was discovered on top of the offices of, which is on a busy road in the south-west of the capital, yesterday morning.  Amazingly, another stowaway survived the 8,000-mile flight from South Africa before being taken to hospital, where he is now fighting for his life.

It is believed the two men sneaked on to flight BA0054 before it set off from Johannesburg airport on Wednesday evening.The man who died is then thought to have hidden in the wheel recess during the airliner's 11-hour five-minute overnight flight to London.It is understood he fell out as the undercarriage came down on the plane's approach to Heathrow. It is not known whether he died during the flight or from the fall.The other man - believed to be 24 - survived and was rushed to hospital when the plane landed. He is said to be in a 'critical' condition.

An expert in Aviation suggested that the man who survived may have got into the plane's baggage or freight holds. He said he could not imagine anybody surviving 11 hours at 35,000 feet and at less than -50C.  According to him, 'If someone is to survive as a stowaway then they have to get into an area of the plane that is pressurised and heated.'  He further pointed out that the discovery of the stowaways also raises questions for airport security.

A study made in 2012 found at least 76 per cent of so-called 'wheel-well stowaways' die during their attempt.Those that do survive tend to be on short-haul flights which stay at relatively low altitudes.In one of the longest-distance known survivals, a stowaway got though a 4,000-mile journey from Hawaii to Los Angeles in 2000, but suffered severe hypothermia.Experts say that if stowaways avoid being crushed when wheels are released, they fall unconscious at around 22,000ft as the oxygen level drops.They will remain unconscious when the doors of the wheels reopen at around 3,000ft during the plane's descent in to land, meaning they are unable to stop themselves falling.

Many of those who die attempting wheel-well stowaways freeze to death during the flight before dropping to the ground.The plane would have been at an altitude of around 1,400ft when it passed over Richmond, flight data reveals.Police say they are treating claims the man was a stowaway on the flight from Johannesburg as 'one line of inquiry'. In September 2012, Mozambique immigrant Jose Matada, fell to the ground in a suburban street in Mortlake, not far from Richmond, in an apparently similar incident.Mr Matada died on his 26th birthday, with a single pound coin in his pocket, as well as currency from Botswana and Angola.It is believed he would have fallen unconscious due to low oxygen levels and temperatures of -60C in the wheel recess of the BA76 Boeing 777 from Luanda, the Angolan capital.Despite wearing only light clothes, a pathologist found he had survived most of the journey, but died before he fell to the ground.

Strange are the ways of people !
With regards – S. Sampathkumar

22nd June 2015.

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