African Stowaway Found Dead in C-130 Wheel Well

C-130 Hercules

The body of a young stowaway from Africa was found in the wheel well of an Air Force C-130J aircraft when it landed at a German airbase after returning from several stops in Africa.

The deceased was an adolescent black male, possibly of Mali origin, who carried no identification, said Rear Adm. John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary. The body was found in a compartment above the rear landing gear, but it was not immediately known where or when the young man got access to the aircraft or how he evaded security, he said.

"The body was only discovered during a detailed post-flight inspection by maintenance personnel" on Sunday at Ramstein Air Force Base, Kirby said.

Kirby said the C-130 had made several stops in Africa in support of the U.S. Africa Command. The aircraft had flown from Mali to refuel in Italy with other stops in between, before arriving at Ramstein, UPI reported.

The body was immediately tested for the Ebola virus and other communicable diseases but the tests were negative, said Kirby. An outbreak of Ebola has killed more than 600 in Liberia and other West African states in recent weeks. On Sunday, a U.S. citizen, Patrick Sawyer of Minnesota, died of the disease in Nigeria after arriving on a flight from Liberia.

The presence of the stowaway would not have been easily noticeable in standard pre- and post-flight inspections, Kirby said. An investigation was underway to determine the identity of the young man and how he managed to board the aircraft, he said.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with his family," Kirby said.

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