The body of a British teenager who died after mysteriously falling from a plane over Madagascar has been found, authorities in the country have confirmed, as police investigate whether she intentionally threw herself from the aircraft.
19-year-old Cambridge University student Alana Cutland fell from the small plane in the remote Anjajavy region on July 25.
Police Colonel D’y La Paix Ralaivaonary told CNN on Wednesday that her body was found by local people and members of the security services on Tuesday. He said an investigation is underway into why Cutland fell from the plane and the circumstances behind it, amid suggestions that those on board with her tried to stop her from falling.
The student did not say a word during the flight, Gervais Damasy, the chief of the bureau of investigation into aviation accidents, told CNN.
Damasy said he had spoken to both the pilot and the only other passenger on the flight, a British woman.
About five or six minutes into the flight, Damasy said, Cutland unbuckled her seatbelt and opened the door.
The other passenger caught hold of Cutland’s leg and held onto her for around two minutes, he added.
The pilot only noticed something was wrong when he saw the door was open. He tried to close it while piloting the plane, but Cutland’s body blocked it.
He then tried to hold onto her, Damasy said, as the plane moved dangerously. But the pilot and passenger couldn’t hold on any longer and she fell.
Cutland did not scream as she fell, Damasy.
The student’s body will be moved to a state hospital on Thursday, Colonel D’y La Paix Ralaivaonary told CNN.
Britain’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office confirmed in a statement Wednesday that Cutland was a British citizen. “We are in contact with the Madagascan Government, Police and aviation authorities following reports of the death of a British woman. Our staff are offering support to her family,” their statement said.