A 16-year-old Kenyan boy has survived sub-zero temperatures on an hour-long flight from London to the Netherlands by hiding himself near the plane’s landing gear.
Dutch police are investigating the possibility of human trafficking after finding the boy falling from a compartment in an aircraft at Maastricht Aachen airport in Limburg on Thursday.
“For us, it is a miracle,” a spokesperson for the Dutch police said. “Usually when someone stows away like this, they die because of the cold or a lack of oxygen,” said Marvin Engh, a spokesman for the Royal Netherlands Marechaussee, one of the national police forces in the country.
The stowaway was taken to a hospital with hypothermia but has since made a full recovery, police said.
He started his journey in Nairobi, the capital of Kenya, and went from there to Istanbul, Turkey, before continuing to London, according to Engh.
The only aircraft that landed at Maastricht from Stanstead on Thursday was THY6305, a cargo flight operated by Turkish Airlines, according to FlightAware, the world’s largest flight tracking platform.
The plane reached a maximum height of 5,791 meters (19,000 feet) and a speed of 460 miles per hour.
The stowaway’s flight had arrived in London from Istanbul earlier on Thursday morning and spent three hours there before leaving for Maastricht.
Stansted officials confirmed the flight the stowaway traveled on was operated by the airline, which is Turkey’s national flag carrier.
The police do not know how he stowed away on his other flights, but a spokesperson for London Stansted airport told CNN that he did not board the aircraft while there, meaning it is likely he boarded THY6305 in Istanbul.
Turkish Airlines did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
He asked for asylum and his claim is being handled by the Netherlands Immigration and Naturalisation Service (INS), said Engh.
A spokesperson for the justice ministry, Bart Vis, said the INS could not comment on individual cases due to privacy laws.
The Netherlands government can grant asylum if those seeking it are refugees, according to its asylum policy. It defines a refugee as “someone who has reason to fear persecution in their country.”
The investigation into people smuggling is a standard procedure and the health and wellbeing of the child is the priority for authorities,Dutch police said.
The body of a stowaway was found in the landing gear of a flight to Paris from Ivory Coast in January last year and in July 2019 a body fell from a plane flying over London and dropped into a residential garden, feet from a sunbathing man.