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Dublin: 5 °C Monday 17 February, 2020

Teen found dead in the wheel-well of an American military cargo plane

The body is possibly of African origin and was found trapped in a compartment above the aircraft’s rear landing gear in Ramstein Air Base in Germany.

Air Force Base Lockdown File photo of a C-130. Source: AP/Press Association Images

THE US DEPARTMENT of Defence has confirmed that the body of a teenage stowaway was found in the wheel-well of a military cargo plane.

The plane had flown around Africa and then back to Germany, meaning that the DoD cannot confirm how long the body had been there, Pentagon Press Secretary Navy Rear Admiral John Kirby said.

The body is possibly of African origin and was found trapped in a compartment above the aircraft’s rear landing gear in Ramstein Air Base in Germany, Kirby said during a news conference.

“American and German emergency responders were summoned, removed the body, and transported it to a German facility for autopsy and further investigation,” he said.

The aircraft had just returned from supporting U.S. Africa Command operations with stops in Senegal, Mali, Chad, Tunisia and at the Navy Base in Sigonella, Italy.

Officials do not know when the boy entered the landing gear wheel well, Kirby said.

GERMANY CIA FLIGHTS A plane takes off from Ramstein Air Force Base Source: AP/Press Association Images

“The location of the body did not impact the function or flight of the aircraft, nor would it be visible during standard pre- and post-flight inspections,” he added.

The body was only discovered during a detailed post-flight inspection by maintenance personnel following [the plane’s arrival at Ramstein].

Lab tests showed the boy carried no communicable diseases, Kirby said, and the cause of death and other circumstances are under investigation.
U.S. and German officials will look into the incident, and U.S. officials will examine the security implications, the press secretary said, noting that airfield security isn’t always up to U.S. standards at some of the airfields where the C-130s operate.

The C-130 is a rugged combat transporter designed to take off and land at austere fields.

“We try to provide as much security as we can for our aircraft when they operate in remote locations, and this will all be part of the investigation,” Kirby said.

“We’ll figure this out, we’ll find out what happened here, and if there is corrective action that needs to be taken here, we’ll take it.”

Read: ‘Riding a rollercoaster without a seatbelt’: How a teen survived 5 hours inside an aeroplane wheel

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