A UNITED STATES cargo jet imponded in Harare last Sunday after a dead body was found during a refuelling stopover at Harare International Airport is still being held by the Civil Aviation of Zimbabwe, NewsDay has established.
Although the owners of the Florida MD11 cargo aircraft (pictured), Western Global Airlines of Estero, say the plane had all necessary documentation for the flight and its cargo was in order and in compliance with international law, the Zimbabwean police said they were still investigating the circumstances surrounding the discovery of the dead body that is widely believed to be a stowaway.
“We are still investigating the matter,” police spokesperson, Senior Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba said yesterday.
The plane, which was en-route to South Africa’s port city of Durban from Munich, Germany, was carrying a diplomatic shipment for the Reserve Bank of South Africa and was by yesterday still stuck at the international airport.
On Wednesday, Charamba said a post-mortem of the body would be conducted in Harare to determine the cause of the death of the man.
She said police investigations would focus on the dead body, not the millions of rand in the plane.
Although the post-mortem results have not yet been released, a well-placed source close to the developments said “the report said the man died of asphyxiation”.
“The man was dead for three days prior to discovery,” the source said.
“He must have been an economic refugee, who got into the plane through the wheels and died in the air plane’s condition latch.”
The statement by the plane’s owners on Wednesday said the aircraft departed Munich on February 13, with three pilots, a mechanic and two passengers travelling as couriers for the SA shipment.
Although the identity of the dead person has not yet been confirmed, the owners have promised to work with various authorities to trace the aircraft’s route.
Various aircraft stowaways have been reported worldwide and very few have managed to survive due to freezing temperatures and lack of oxygen, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.