The bodies of two men were recovered Monday morning at the José Joaquín de Olmedo airport after an airport employee reported seeing objects falling from a Latam jet during takeoff.
Law enforcement officials say the men, believed to be Peruvian, fell from the aircraft’s landing gear as it departed on a flight to the U.S. “We believe they fell from a height of about 250 meters as the jet was taking off,” said investigator Germán Bustamante. “They were apparently riding in the landing gear apparatus and when the gear began to retract, they were ejected.”
One of the men landed on the tarmac, the other on the adjacent grass. Both were dead when paramedics arrived.
“We believe they were stowaways,” Bustamante said. “They were not airline or airport employees and all passengers on the flight were accounted for.”
He added that an investigation is underway to determine how the men were able to enter the restricted area where the jet was refueling and boarding.
The jet was ordered to return to Guayaquil immediately after the incident but was allowed to resume its flight to New York two hours later.