BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) -- Two stowaways hiding in the landing gear of a Miami-bound cargo plane were killed Wednesday when the plane was forced to make a hard emergency landing in Colombia, officials said.
The two men, whose identities and nationalities were not yet known, were found dead by crews inspecting the plane after it landed at the international airport in Cali, Colombia's third-largest city, civil aviation director Juan Carlos Velez said.
The plane, a DC-8 belonging to the U.S. cargo company Arrow Air, took off from Cali for Miami, but was forced to return after its crew reported the forward landing gear -- where the men were hiding _ was stuck shut. The plane landed hard on the runway covered with foam, apparently causing the deaths on impact.
The landing gear problem may have been caused by provisions the castaways themselves stowed in the hold, including an oxygen tank and a suitcase full of clothing to withstand the thin air and freezing air during the flight, Velez said.
The flight arrived in Colombia from Quito, the capital of Ecuador, late Tuesday and took off early Wednesday from Cali. Officials were unsure whether the castaways boarded it in Ecuador or in Colombia. The plane suffered light damage, but its crew was unharmed.