Stowaway in plane's nose wheel survives flight from Africa to Amsterdam

Stowaway in plane's nose wheel survives flight from Africa to Amsterdam
·2 min read

Police in the Dutch city of Amsterdam discovered a stowaway hidden in the nose wheel of a cargo plane arriving from Africa, a spokeswoman said. In a Twitter post Monday, the military police, or Marechaussee, identified the man as a 22-year-old from Nairobi, Kenya.

"He has applied for asylum in the Netherlands," the police said, adding that authorities are "investigating the travel route and whether there is any question of human smuggling."

A spokesperson for freight carrier Cargolux confirmed to Reuters in an email that the stowaway had been on a flight operated by Cargolux Italia but declined to comment, citing the police investigation.

According to the airport's website and flight-tracking service FlightRadar24, the only Cargolux freight flight arriving at Schiphol on Sunday was a Boeing 747 freighter that traveled from Johannesburg and made a stop in Nairobi, Kenya, Reuters reported.

A Cargolux Airlines International Boeing 747-4HQF(ER) landing in Amsterdam Schiphol International Airport in The Netherlands on August 30, 2018. / Credit: Nicolas Economou/NurPhoto via Getty Images
A Cargolux Airlines International Boeing 747-4HQF(ER) landing in Amsterdam Schiphol International Airport in The Netherlands on August 30, 2018. / Credit: Nicolas Economou/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The man is believed to have slipped onboard the plane before it left Johannesburg, Royal Dutch Military Police spokeswoman Joanne Helmonds said Sunday. Flight times between Johannesburg and Amsterdam average about 11 hours. The flight from Nairobi to Amsterdam is more than eight hours.

"Our first concern of course was for his health," she said. "This is definitely very unusual that someone was able to survive the cold at such a height — very, very unusual."

Helmonds said police had opened a probe into the incident.

"It is quite remarkable that the man is still alive," she said.

Stowaways on flights to the Netherlands are rare, she adding, noting that previous attempts had involved would-be migrants from Nigeria and Kenya.

Last year, border police discovered the body of a Nigerian man in the landing gear of a plane arriving at Schiphol airport.

In 2019, a suspected stowaway fell to his death from a Kenya Airways plane in England. Police believe the victim fell into a man's property in Clapham from the landing gear compartment of a plane heading to Heathrow Airport.

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