SHANGHAI, China – A 13-year-old stowaway who clung to an airplane's landing gear was killed when he fell during takeoff, while his 14-year-old companion was hospitalized after he survived the hour-long flight, newspapers reported Friday.
The survivor, identified as Liang Kailong (search), was found nearly frozen and clutching a hose inside the wheel well of the Sichuan Airlines Airbus A320 after it landed in the western city of Chongqing Thursday morning, the reports said.
The flight had taken off more than one hour before from the city of Kunming to the southwest.
Doctors pronounced Liang in fair condition, despite exposure to engine noise, lack of oxygen and temperatures as low as 22 degrees below, Shanghai's Youth Daily reported. Another paper, the Oriental Morning Post said the boy was in danger of losing his hearing, but was not otherwise seriously hurt.
The boy who died was not identified, although the Oriental Morning Post said he was 13 years old.
A policeman at the airport police station in Chongqing confirmed the incident, but refused to give other details or his name. People answering phones at the hospital clinic, Sichuan Airlines and Chongqing and Kunming airport management offices refused to comment.
The newspapers said Liang was a drifter from the central province of Hunan, who had escaped with the other boy from a home for runaway children in Kunming on Thursday morning.
It wasn't clear how the boys gained access to the runway or why they had climbed into the landing gear compartment.
In January 2003, the frozen bodies of two men plummeted from an Air France flight as it prepared to land in Shanghai after a flight from Paris. The men, apparently European, weren't identified and it wasn't known how they fell.