London: A South African stowaway was found dead in a British Airways passenger jet after it landed at Heathrow airport, sparking security concerns here.
According to British Airways, the corpse was inside the landing gear bay of a Boeing 747 after it arrived at the London airport from Cape Town in South Africa, on Thursday.
"We are liaising with the South African authorities and Cape Town airport after a body was found in the landing gear bay of one of our aircraft," a company spokesman was quoted by the Daily Mail as saying.
"They are investigating how this incident took place, which involved a Boeing 747 which arrived this morning from Cape Town. This is a very rare and sad event and our thoughts are with the individual’s family," he added.
The Metropolitan Police said the body was of a person who was not a member of the jumbo jet`s crew or a passenger on the flight.
"Police were called at approximately 6.25am (local time), yesterday August 23 to an incoming flight at Heathrow Airport following the discovery of a man’s body," the spokesman said.
"Officers and London Ambulance Service attended. The man was pronounced dead at 7.07 am (local time). The death is being treated as non-suspicious. Inquiries are ongoing to establish the man`s identity," he added.
It is believed the dead man could be a person who was spotted scaling the fence at Cape Town International Airport before heading towards a British Airways flight getting ready to take off.
Airports Company South Africa, which runs the airport, said it was carrying out an investigation.
"Last night at approximately 8.40 pm (local time) a person was detected scaling the perimeter fence at Cape Town International Airport (CTIA)," the spokeswoman added.
"The airport immediately responded and, as a security patrol officer attempted to apprehend the man, he ran in the direction of a British Airways aircraft already in its holding pattern ready for take-off," she added.
She said for safety reasons, the security officer could not approach the aircraft. A search of the airfield was immediately conducted but the person was not found.
"British Airways, in addition to various other parties, were notified. Further sweeps were conducted of the runway and the broader airfield," she added.