WASHINGTON, July 29, 2014 —
Airmen at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, found the body of an adolescent boy in the wheel well of a C-130J cargo plane July 27, Pentagon Press Secretary Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby said today.
The body is possibly of African origin and was found trapped in a compartment above the aircraft’s rear landing gear, Kirby said during a news conference.
“American and German emergency responders were summoned, removed the body, and transported it to a German facility for autopsy and further investigation,” he said.
The aircraft had just returned from supporting U.S. Africa Command operations with stops in Senegal, Mali, Chad, Tunisia and at the Navy Base in Sigonella, Italy. Officials do not know when the boy entered the landing gear wheel well, Kirby said.
“The location of the body did not impact the function or flight of the aircraft, nor would it be visible during standard pre- and post-flight inspections,” he added. “The body was only discovered during a detailed post-flight inspection by maintenance personnel following [the plane’s arrival at Ramstein].”
Lab tests showed the boy carried no communicable diseases, Kirby said, and the cause of death and other circumstances are under investigation.
U.S. and German officials will look into the incident, and U.S. officials will examine the security implications, the press secretary said, noting that airfield security isn’t always up to U.S. standards at some of the airfields where the C-130s operate.
The C-130 is a rugged combat transporter designed to take off and land at austere fields.
“We try to provide as much security as we can for our aircraft when they operate in remote locations, and this will all be part of the investigation,” Kirby said. “We’ll figure this out, we’ll find out what happened here, and if there is corrective action that needs to be taken here, we’ll take it.”
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