JOHANNESBURG (AFP) – Cleaners found an abandoned foetus blocking the toilet of a plane in South Africa on Friday (June 21), the domestic FlySafair airline said, prompting the offloading of passengers and a police investigation.
The foetus was discovered by cleaning staff as the plane was being prepared and passengers boarded for an early morning flight from the coastal city of Durban to Johannesburg.
“Upon final preparations of the waste management system for the departure of flight, our technical crew discovered what appeared to be an abandoned foetus,” the airline said in a statement.
Police confirmed the incident and said they were investigating.
Passengers were asked to disembark the plane and their journeys were rescheduled.
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“We will be doing everything within our power to aid authorities in the necessary investigations and thank our loyal customers for their patience with the resultant delay,” said FlySafair executive Kirby Gordon.
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A foetus was found blocking the toilet of a FlySafair plane preparing for take-off in South Africa this morningCredit: Wikipedia
But on final preparations for take-off one of the airline’s cleaning staff discovered the foetus blocking the toilet of the aircraft.
The plane had reportedly been parked overnight at the airport after it landed at the airport late on Thursday evening.
Suction reportedly needed to be used to remove the blockage from the toilet.
Fly Safair crew immediately alerted the relevant authorities and police were called out to the aircraft to investigate.
The budget South African airline said the “tragic finding” forced them to evacuate the plane while procedures started to investigate the findings.
Kirby Gordon, spokesperson for FlySafair said in a statement: “We will be doing everything in our power to aid authorities in the necessary investigations and thank our loyal customers for their patience with the resultant delay.”
South African Police spokesperson Colonel Thembeka Mbele said “early investigations were underway” while urging pregnant women to ask for help if they need it.
She said: “If they have a problem, there are social workers, or they can go to the police, who can advise them where to go.
“There are social workers who can assist if you think you’re not ready for the pregnancy.”
FlySafair said they would be “happy to offer refunds or free changes” to passengers who were on board the scheduled flight.
After delays, the flight was eventually cancelled and all passengers were booked onto alternate flights by the airline’s crew on the ground.
The South African reports that laws around disposal and abandonment of foetal remains is complex in the country.
According to studies, it is “very rare that the person responsible for the disposal of the foetus is found guilty of murder”.
The identity of the mother is currently unknown.