The bodies of two young men were discovered by airline personnel after the plane from Santiago landed in Bogota, according to aviation officials.

Attempts to stow away in the wheels or other areas of aircrafts are often fatal, according to aviation data.
Attempts to stow away in the wheels or other areas of aircrafts are often fatal, according to aviation data. (AA)

The bodies of two young men, who were possibly from the Dominican Republic, have been found in the undercarriage of an Avianca airplane during maintenance in the Colombian capital Bogota, the airline and the attorney general's office of Colombia said.

"At its arrival to the El Dorado airport in Bogota (from Chile), personnel from the airline discovered the bodies of two people who flew irregularly (stowaways) in the undercarriage of the airplane," Avianca said in a statement on Saturday, adding the discovery was made on Friday evening.

Avianca expressed sympathy for the families of the two people and added that though it inspects airplanes before every flight, the security of airports and their restricted areas is the responsibility of authorities.

"The technical investigation body of the attorney general's office is carrying out urgent actions to identify the nationality and origin of the bodies aged between 15 and 20, Afro-descendent, which were found inside the airplane," the attorney general's office said in a statement.

Though no identification documents were found with the bodies, one was carrying currency from the Dominican Republic and a suitcase found with the men had paperwork from that country.

Those discoveries "infer that the men could have been on the plane since January 3," when it was last in the Dominican Republic, the office said.

The plane was last given regular maintenance on December 27, the attorney general's office added, and has since traveled to Bogota, Guarulhos, near Sao Paulo, Brazil and Santiago.

The bodies had been frozen and were partially thawed, the statement added, and one had burns.

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Fatal stowaway attempts

Attempts to stow away in the wheels or other areas of aircrafts are often fatal.

Data collected by the US Federal Aviation Administration show that of the 129 or so recorded attempts of stowing away since 1947, at least 100 have resulted in deaths due to injuries or exposure to intense heat or cold temperature.

Among the recent deaths reported of stowaways were that of the two Afghan men who fell to their deaths after attempting to cling to a US military plane that left Kabul at the height of the American withdrawal in 2021. 

It is very unusual for stowaways on long flights to survive, due to the cold and low oxygen at high altitudes.

But in some instances, individuals have miraculously survived. 

In early 2022, police in The Netherlands found a stowaway alive in the wheel section of a plane that flew for about 11 hours from Johannesburg, South Africa to Amsterdam's Schiphol airport.

In 2021, a 26-year-old stowaway hiding inside the landing gear compartment of an American Airlines plane survived a flight from his home country of Guatemala to the US city of Miami. The flight between the two destinations usually takes more than two hours.

In April 2014, a 16-year-old boy who reportedly ran away from home survived after five hours in the wheel well of a jetliner flying from California to Hawaii in the US.

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Source: TRTWorld and agencies