Body of 'apparent stowaway' found in U.S. Air Force plane that traversed Africa

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POSTED: Tuesday, July 29, 2014 - 5:22pm

UPDATED: Tuesday, July 29, 2014 - 5:29pm

 The body of an "apparent stowaway" was found in the wheel well of a U.S. Air Force plane that traveled around Africa before returning to an American base in Germany, a Pentagon spokesman said Tuesday.

The deceased "adolescent black male, possibly of African origin" turned up during a "detailed post-flight inspection" of the C-130 at Ramstein Air Base on Sunday night, according to Pentagon spokesman Adm. John Kirby.

The body didn't affect the plane's flight, nor was it visible during "standard" inspections before and after flights, he said.

Since taking off from Ramstein, the C-130 had stopped in Senegal, Mali, Chad, Tunisia and Italy over an eight-day stretch, said Air Force spokeswoman Erika Stecker.

Where and when did the adolescent male get on the plane? Authorities stated Tuesday that they don't know -- though the fact that the aircraft stopped in parts of Africa now dealing with a deadly Ebola outbreak raises cause for concern.

The World Health Organization had confirmed more than 800 Ebola cases in West Africa, which includes Senegal and Mali, as of July 23, but suspects there have been many unreported infections and there may be more like 1,200 cases.

Kirby said that lab tests of samples taken from the apparent stowaway's body came back negative "for communicable diseases."

"The cause of death, as well as the other circumstances surrounding this incident, remains under investigation," said the Pentagon spokesman.

The C-130 was "supporting Africa Command operations" during its various stops, Kirby said.

CNN's Lindsay Isaac and Greg Botelho contributed to this report. 

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