A stowaway has been found dead inside the wheel-well of an Arik Airline flight that traveled from Nigeria to South Africa. South African authorities on Wednesday discovered the body of the yet-to-be identified Nigerian at the Oliver Tambo Airport in Johannesburg, South Africa.
According to Saharareporters, South African Airways engineers discovered the body of the stowaway at the airport during the inspection phase of a routine maintenance check.
Arik Air spokesman Ola Adebanji revealed that the flight departed from the international wing of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA) in Lagos on Tuesday at 3:55 p.m. and then arrived in Johannesburg at 11 p.m. later that night.
Adeniji said investigations are underway to determine how the man, about 30 years old, found his way in to the wheel well of Airbus A330-200.
It is reportedly not uncommon to find stowaways on planes departing from the airport since some desperate Nigerians allegedly negotiate with security operatives to get access to restricted areas of the airport.
Airport officials believe the stowaway may have gained entrance in to the airport premises through the Shasha area at night and then hid himself in the wheel, hoping to travel successfully to any overseas country.
Stowaways or persons looking to make their way across international borders often hide in the wheel well (landing gear) of aircrafts, but the act is very dangerous: They have to contend with hypoxia (lack of oxygen) and hypothermia (extra low body temperature), which are two life-threatening conditions.
The chances of survival for stowaways hiding in an aircraft’s wheel well are higher at altitudes less than 2,440 m or (8,000 ft.). At altitudes higher than that, partial pressure in the wheel well may not support brain consciousness. There is also the increased risk of decompression sickness and nitrogen gas embolism.
Public affairs analysts say desperation and an all-consuming desire to live and work abroad due to prevailing unfavorable economic conditions in Nigeria is to be blamed for the upswing in the number of young people willing to risk it all by traveling as stowaways.
In 2013, Nigerian security personnel discovered 13-year-old Daniel Oikhena hiding in the undercarriage of an Arik Airline flight from Benin to Lagos.
The starry-eyed teenager told interrogators that he had hid in the wheel well of the aircraft because he believed the plane was headed for the United States.