Body of Young Stowaway Found in Wheel Well of U.S. Military Plane
The body of a boy of unknown nationality was found in the wheel well of an American C-130 aircraft after it landed at Ramstein Air Base in Germany, CBS News reports.
Air Force personnel found the boy's body last weekend night after spotting an orange cloth in a small opening by the landing gear while airmen during a detailed inspection of the C-130J aircraft when it landed at Ramstein Air Base, said CBS News. When they tugged on the wet cloth, they discovered it was attached to a boy in the compartment, officials said.
The Pentagon's press secretary, Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby, said the stowaway was a black male who may have been of African origin. The plane was on a routine mission in Africa and had made stops in Senegal, Mali, Chad, Tunisia and Naval Air Station Sigonella in Sicily before arriving at Ramstein.
It is considered unlikely the child got on in Sigonella because that air base is secure, said CBS News.
A stowaway aboard a military plane is a significant security breach. No Africa Command senior leaders were on the flight.
"Security is going to be looked at here. Obviously it would be," Kirby said. "We try to provide as much security as we can for our aircraft when they're operating in remote locations, and this will all be part of the investigation."
He added, however, that some of the airfields where the planes land are very remote and the security isn't always up to the standards that are followed in the U.S. and other nations.
Kirby had no details about how well-guarded the plane was during the Africa stops and said it was unclear how the boy managed to get into the compartment.
The body was not detected in routine pre-flight and post-flight checks during the trip, but was found during a more detailed maintenance inspection of the cargo plane, said Kirby. The body was turned over to German authorities for an autopsy and possible identification, said CBS News.