Stowaway falls from plane approaching Heathrow; body lands in London garden

A plane takes off over a road sign near Heathrow Airport in London. Officials said a man fell from the undercarriage of a flight from Nairobi and landed in a south London garden on Sunday.
(Kirsty Wigglesworth / Associated Press)

A stowaway fell from the undercarriage of a jet as it approached Heathrow Airport after a nine-hour flight from Nairobi, Kenya, landing in a south London garden, police and airline officials said Monday.

The Metropolitan Police said the man’s body was found in a residential garden in south London’s Clapham area Sunday.

The body has not yet been identified. Police said an autopsy would be conducted to determine the cause of death.


Kenya Airways said police traced the body to its Nairobi-to-London flight. A bag, water and food were discovered in the plane’s landing gear compartment after it landed.

The airline called the death “unfortunate” and said it was cooperating with British and Kenyan authorities.

Stowing away in a plane’s undercarriage is exceptionally dangerous. Experts believe roughly three-quarters of stowaways do not survive because of the extreme cold and lack of oxygen as the plane reaches cruising altitude.

Though not common, stowaways have in the past plunged onto the streets of London as planes lowered their landing gear. In September 2012, a 30-year-old from Mozambique, Jose Matada, died after falling from the undercarriage of a Heathrow-bound flight from Angola.