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Stowaway survives 11-hour flight that made Nairobi stopover

By Stephanie Wangari | Jan 24th 2022 | 2 min read
A stowaway was found hiding on an Amsterdam-bound cargo plane on Sunday. [Courtesy]

A stowaway hiding on the nose wheel section of an Amsterdam-bound cargo plane was found alive by Dutch authorities on Sunday morning.

Authorities suspect that the man could have been hiding for more than 11 hours, braving extreme weather conditions.

The plane had departed from Johannesburg, South Africa, made a stop in Nairobi, Kenya, before embarking to Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam.

Officials are yet to establish the man's identity but believe he might be between the ages of 16-35. They are also probing whether he boarded the plane from Johannesburg or Nairobi. 

"He was taken to hospital in a stable condition. We were surprised upon finding this man but even more surprised at him being alive after the plane flew over 10,000 kilometres in very, very cold temperatures. It is quite remarkable that the man is still alive," Royal Dutch Military Police spokeswoman Joanna Helmonds told the AFP news agency.

Airport crew were surprised to see something that looked like a person and were quick enough to notify the authorities.

On arrival at the scene, Dutch police and emergency services confirmed that the man was alive. He, however, had a low body temperature. 

"The man was revived and stabilised at the airport and then transported to a hospital in Amsterdam," Helmonds added.

Helmonds said he would be processed at the Asylum Seekers Centre (AZC) where his status would be determined once he had recovered and was discharged from the hospital.

In February last year, a 16-year-old Kenyan boy survived sub-zero temperatures on an hour-long flight from London to the Netherlands by hiding himself near the plane's landing gear.

He started his journey in Nairobi and went from there to Istanbul, Turkey, before continuing to London Stansted Airport.

He was treated for hypothermia and made a full recovery.

However, not all stowaways are as lucky.

In January 2020, the body of a stowaway was found in the landing gear of a flight to Paris from Ivory Coast.

In July 2019, a body fell from a plane flying over London and dropped into a residential garden, just a few feet from a sunbathing man. 

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