A 16-year-old Kenyan stowaway was found alive after he reportedly hid in the landing gear of an airplane that flew from the East African nation’s capital of Nairobi to the Maastricht Aachen Airport in Holland.
The unidentified teenager survived the dangerous flight despite sub-zero temperatures and lack of oxygen. The boy, who was found falling from the compartment of the airplane on Thursday, was taken to a hospital and treated for hypothermia, CNN reported.
Police, however, say he has made a full recovery. They are also investigating if it’s a case of human trafficking which is standard procedure.
“For us, it is a miracle,” a Dutch spokesperson told the news outlet. “Usually when someone stows away like this, they die because of the cold or a lack of oxygen,” Marvin Engh, a spokesperson for one of the national police forces in the country – the Royal Netherlands Marechaussee – said.
Engh said the teenager boarded a flight in Nairobi, and from there found his way to the Turkish capital of Istanbul before later arriving in London. Officials at London Stansted Airport said the flight the stowaway boarded touched down in London from Istanbul on Thursday morning, and was at the airport for three hours before departing for Maastricht. The plane reached altitudes as high as 5,791 meters (19,000 feet) and a 460 miles per hour speed, according to CNN.
Though the police could not establish how he was able to switch flights, a Stansted official told the news outlet the teenager did not board the flight in London, meaning he was already hiding in it when it arrived from Istanbul.
Engh said the teenager has since applied for asylum, and the Netherlands Immigration and Naturalisation Service (INS) is looking into it.
Aviation experts say stowaways who attempt the dangerous and daring act of hiding in the landing gear of airplanes are more likely to die from hypothermia or lack of oxygen. Out of the 109 known global stowaway attempts, only 24 who hid in the plane’s landing gear have managed to survive, Mail Online reported in January.