LONDON — The macabre mystery surrounding a man whose body fell from a plane onto a suburban London street in September has been partially solved.
Police said Thursday they have finally identified the man as Jose Matada and determined that he was originally from the African nation of Mozambique.
But they have not been able to locate his family or to repatriate his body despite receiving assistance from authorities in that country.
Matada’s crumpled body was found on a street in the quiet west London suburb of Mortlake early on the morning of Sept. 9.
Police thought at first he was a murder victim, but soon determined his lifeless body had fallen from a plane preparing to land at nearby Heathrow Airport.
They believed he might be from the African country of Angola because he had currency from that country in his jeans and because a jet from Angola had been passing overhead at the time. Some members of London’s Angolan community came to the spot where he landed shortly after his death to place flowers and pray for him.
But efforts to identify him with the help of Angolan officials failed.
Detectives next tried to call phone numbers on a SIM card found in his jeans and eventually received information about his identity and origins.
“Following a complex inquiry in which new information has recently come to light, detectives are satisfied the deceased is 30-year-old Jose Matada,” the Metropolitan Police said in a statement.
Police are still holding the body for eventual return to his family if his relatives can be found.
Matada was not carrying identity documents when his body fell from the plane. It is believed he was already dead and that his body fell from the undercarriage of the plane after it lowered its landing gear for the approach to Heathrow.
An autopsy conducted two days after the body landed listed the cause of death as “multiple injuries.”
Although firm figures are not available, in recent years there has been a rise in the number of stowaways trying to get to Western Europe by hiding in the undercarriages of passenger planes.
Experts say they often end in death because stowaways experience oxygen starvation and extremely cold temperatures.