He had hidden on Tuesday in the landing gear of an Air France Boeing 777 connecting Abidjan to Paris: the body of a young boy was found Wednesday at dawn at Paris Roissy-Charles airport in Gaulle.
The plane took off from the Ivorian economic capital on Tuesday evening and landed shortly after 05:00 GMT in Paris. The body, lightly clothed, was discovered less than an hour later in the landing gear well, sources close to the investigation said.
An airline spokesperson confirmed the death of a « stowaway », without specifying his age, and deplored a « human tragedy ». According to several sources close to the investigation, he could be « about ten years old ».
The Bobigny prosecution indicated that it had entrusted the Gendarmerie des Transports Aires with an investigation to find the causes of death. An examination of the victim’s body, whose identity and age the prosecutor does not know, is expected to be carried out on Wednesday.
In recent years, several stowaways, including teenagers from Africa, have been found dead from the cold or run over in landing gear holds.
In France, the last case dates from April 2013. The body of a probably minor boy, an unsuccessful immigrant candidate, was found in Roissy in the landing gear of an airplane from Cameroon.
Asphyxiation or cold
According to a source familiar with the investigation, the boy found on Wednesday « died either from asphyxiation or from the cold ».
Temperatures drop to -50 ° C between 9,000 and 10,000 meters, the altitude at which airliners fly. The landing gear housings are neither heated nor pressurized.
Laure Palun, director of Anafé (National Association of Border Assistance for Foreigners), declared to the AFP to be « extremely shocked by this rare drama, fruit of the logic of closing and control of the borders ».
In his eyes, « he questions the logic of European migration policies: when there is no legal migration route, people have to hide in order to reach the country they want to go to, and that leads to tragedies ».
For an Ivorian security source, « beyond the human drama, this indicates a major security breach at Abidjan airport, » she told AFP, wondering how a child of ten years was able to access a plane and if he benefited from complicity.
« As a pilot, I have already seen people along the runway several times, without anyone knowing who they are and where they come from, » testified a pilot of the flying club. Abidjan, speaking on condition of anonymity. The flying club is located inside the Félix Houphouët-Boigny International Airport.
While Côte d’Ivoire, which lives under the threat of jihadist attacks, has one of the most dynamic economies in Africa with an average annual growth of 8% since 2012, illegal emigration to Europe is experiencing in recent years an unprecedented scale.
In 2017, 8,753 migrants aged 14 to 24 from Côte d’Ivoire arrived in Italy, including 1,263 women and 1,474 unaccompanied minors, according to figures from the Italian Volunteer Center (CEVI).