Local council demands action over falling air stowaways

LONDON Fri Apr 26, 2013 2:55pm BST

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LONDON (Reuters) - A London local authority close to Heathrow Airport demanded action on Friday from aviation chiefs to protect its residents from being killed by the bodies of stowaways falling from aircraft.

Two weeks ago, police said a dead body found in a suburban street in southwest London in September, was that of a man who had fallen from the undercarriage of a British Airways flight from Angola to Heathrow, which was about 10 miles (16 km) away.

The body of the 30-year-old man, believed to be from Mozambique, destroyed a car when it landed in East Sheen and the local council said it could have been far more serious.

"What's happened, horrific though it was, has destroyed only property so far. You could imagine if somebody walking along the street was struck, they'd be killed," said a spokesman for Richmond Council.

He said there had been several cases in recent years of stowaways hiding in aircraft bound for London, with another body discovered in the landing-gear of a flight from South Africa last August.

The council said its lawyers had contacted all major bodies responsible for air safety but none would take responsibility for the issue.

"Unfortunately, it seems that local authorities have no powers to protect residents from bodies falling from the sky, which would be fine if those agencies with powers were doing something but to their disgrace they aren't," said Nicholas True, the council's leader.

"And with a possible expanding airport and more flights coming in and out of Heathrow - we need to have reassurance that our residents are protected. This is a shocking example of passing the buck in high places."

(Reporting by Michael Holden)

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