Police on Saturday confirmed that the body found on the roof of a house in Al-Faisal Town had fallen from an airplane.
The initial inquiry report has been forwarded to the airport authorities, who are still denying that the suspect fell off a plane.
Police finalized their investigation report after local witneses submitted their statements saying they saw the person fall from a plane.
The body has not been identified as yet.
The pilot of an Airblue flight had contacted the control room immediately after take-off and reported a malfunction while closing a plane’s wheels, air traffic control sources said, informing the controllers a few minutes later that the problem had been rectified.
The air traffic controllers said that the time of the flight’s take off coincided with that of the man’s fall, saying it was likely that the stowaway was hiding in the plane’s wheels which might have caused the wheel’s malfunction.
Civil aviation authorities sought records from two carriers, Shaheen Airways and Airblue. None of the employees of the carriers or other departments of the Allama Iqbal airport in Lahore reported anyone missing.
Airport Security Force (ASF) also provided CCTV footage of the runway and aircraft of both the airlines, with the footage not showing anyone near the planes at the time of take-off.
Police have said that they will only take action after the body’s autopsy report is completed.
Updated from print edition (below)
Unsafe passage: ‘Stowaway’ crash lands on rooftop
Police are investigating whether a body found on a rooftop in Al Faisal Town in North Cantt police limits was a stowaway trying to flee the country by clinging to a plane’s landing gear.
The residents of Street 5 in Al Faisal Colony reported hearing a loud bang between 9:10 and 9:15 pm on Thursday night at one of the houses on the street. A flight headed for Dubai had recently taken off from Allama Iqbal International Airport, which is located close to the colony.
The owner of the house, retired PTCL employee Haji Muhammad Afzal, found a body on the roof, his son Muhammad Faizan told The Express Tribune. “We tried to move the body but all the bones were shattered, especially his upper body, the arms, shoulders, chest and hips. There was blood everywhere and his head was split wide open,” he said.
Faizan said there was a crack in the roof where the body landed. He said the man had been wearing grey pants, a brown checked shirt, a jacket and torn socks. His neighbours and other colony residents all believed that the body fell from a plane. SI Muhammad Ishfaq Ahmad of North Cantt police said that the man’s jacket and parts of his body were covered in thorns from a variety of weed found in abundance at grounds around the airport.
He said that having seen the condition of the body, he believed the man could have fallen out of a plane. He said that both arms were broken just behind the elbow, as was his jaw. He said the man looked to be in his early twenties and his pockets were empty. He said his fingerprints had been sent to the National Database Registration Authority (Nadra) for identification.
SI Muhammad Abbas said that the man had grease and tyre carbon stains on his arms and face, indicating that he may have been holding on to landing gear. He said that when police arrived at the scene, there were some 200 people gathered around the house in the street and they corroborated the story of the residents of the house.
Airport officials doubted that the dead man could have fallen from a plane.
Allama Iqbal Airport Manager Amir Mehboob said that nobody could hold on to a plane’s landing gear for as long as the apparent stowaway would have had to. He said the house where the body was found was one aerial mile from the airport. By that distance the plane would have ascended to nearly 20,000 feet, and humans could not survive at that altitude. “Had this happened, the person would have fallen at least half a mile back,” he said, as he would have not been able to hold on to the landing gear for long enough to ascend to that height.
He said the second big hole in the story was that the body should not have fallen out early in the flight when the landing gear was retreating back into the plane. “He would have been stuck inside the plane and fallen out at the time of landing,” he said. He added that he would have to wait for the autopsy report to draw a final conclusion.
Security officials at the airport denied that the man could have gotten to the plane by crawling through the airport grounds, despite the plant matter found on his body. Airport officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that if the man was indeed a stowaway, it would cast suspicion of negligence or corruption on airport officials.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 15th, 2011.