London: A rare and macabre incident of a man falling to death from a jet plane continues to mystify the police and the neighbourhood in west London’s Mortlake, where the distorted body of a black man was found on the sidewalk of Portman Avenue.
The identity of the man, who is believed to have stowed away on a London- bound plane, remains a mystery even as the police in Britain are trying hard to trace the details about the man.
The incident came to light on a Sunday morning in September when the residents of Mortlake found a badly crumpled body lying on Portman Avenue’s sidewalk.
Police and detectives rushed to the site and cordoned off the area, believing it to be a case of murder. But they determined soon that the man was a stowaway who was hiding in a plane coming from Angola, and that he had crashed down to earth when the plane lowered its landing gear directly above Portman Avenue while approaching Heathrow.
A post mortem conducted two days after the body landed listed the cause of death as "multiple injuries."
According to police, the man had no specific identification papers with him. The man possessed some Angolan currency that was recovered from his jeans pocket, leading the police to guess that he belonged to the African country.
Police also said attempts to identify the man with the help of Angolan authorities had been unsuccessful. They stressed there is only "circumstantial" evidence linking the stowaway to that country.
In a statement, police said the man is believed to be an African of slight build between the ages of 20 and 30. He was wearing jeans, white sneakers and a gray sweatshirt when he was found on Sept. 9, police said.
British police have released an electronic image of the man`s face and a photo of a tattoo on his left arm, featuring letters A and Z.
Police said the body is being held for possible repatriation in case the man`s identity is established.
Moved by the ghastly death, some residents placed flowers at the site where the man was found lying dead.
Lambert, 41, said there is lingering sadness, since the man has not been identified and there has been no way to tell his family he is gone.
"I felt, what was he running away from? What made him think he could he could? And how will his family ever know? He`s a lost soul now; his father and mother are probably waiting for him to make contact," she said.
Unofficial representatives of London`s Angolan community trekked to Mortlake to pay their respects to the man, even though no one knew who he was.
They prayed and also left flowers — but the bouquet was quickly removed by residents after the delegation departed, for fears that it would become an unwanted, permanent shrine to the unknown passenger.
Some are still unwilling to discuss the falling man.
"Is this about the man from the sky?" asked one woman when approached by a reporter as she parked her car on Portman Avenue. "I don`t want to talk about it. That was my house."
Although firm figures are not available, in recent years there has been a rise in the number of stowaways trying to get to Western Europe by hiding in the undercarriages of passenger planes.
With Agency Inputs