- The Washington Times - Friday, January 24, 2003

HONG KONG, Jan. 24 (UPI) — The bodies of two men fell from an aircraft before it landed at Shanghai's Pudong International Airport. Reports on Friday said both showed signs of frostbite, indicating they might have been dead before dropping from the plane.

The China Daily newspaper said the men were both white and about 30 years old. Initial investigations showed the two had probably hidden in the baggage compartment of Air France flight 112 from Paris to Shanghai.

Media reports said they were both muscular and had brown hair.

The unidentified pair fell onto a house in Laoxiang, a suburb of Shanghai, and French diplomats searched the area looking for clues as to who the men were and how they died.

"Shanghai police started an investigation soon after the plane landed at the Pudong International Airport at 11:05 a.m., one hour later than its scheduled arrival. The police have still not identified the two foreigners," said the official People's Daily newspaper on Friday.

"The other passengers left the plane safely and the aircraft is remaining at the airport as the investigation continues," it said.

Air France confirmed all ticketed passengers were accounted for.

Air France flight 112 was preparing to land at Pudong Airport on Thursday morning when the two fell from the aircraft, the official news agency Xinhua said.

Chinese newspapers ran front-page pictures of a house with a hole in its tiled roof that the two supposedly fell through.

Most of the state-run media speculated about what the men's plans had been. Stowing away on an aircraft bound for China is an unusual choice.

Thousands try to leave China each year aboard container ships bound for Europe and the United States. Many pay thousands of dollars to illegal gangs to be smuggled out and some lose their lives by traveling on ships with little food, unsanitary conditions and scant oxygen.

One possible explanation, said one Hong Kong radio station, is that the two had mistakenly stowed away on the plane bound for Shanghai and had intended to board a different plane.

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