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Body found in jet wheel well at Virginia's Dulles Airport

By Kevin Murphy

(Reuters) - A man's body was discovered on Saturday in the wheel well of a South African Airways jetliner parked at Dulles International Airport outside of Washington, and investigators are seeking to determine when and how he died, officials said.

A ground crew assigned to the plane, an Airbus A340, found the body at about 1:30 p.m. local time (1830 GMT), according to a statement from the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority.

The plane arrived at Dulles in Virginia on Thursday morning from Johannesburg, South Africa, after a stop in Dakar, Senegal, authority spokesman Christopher Paolino said in an email.

The plane was parked in a remote parking area at the airport, the authority said. Airport police, fire and rescue crews responded to the scene, along with the FBI and U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers.

The body was turned over to the Fairfax County Medical Examiner's Office, according to the airport authority.

The grisly discovery did not alter operations of the terminals or runways at Dulles, a major international flight gateway in northern Virginia.

The wheel well, the portion of the plane where the body was discovered, is a recessed compartment that wheels are retracted into during flight.

The Airbus A340 series of jumbo jets has a capacity ranging from 240 to 359 passengers, according to an Airbus company website.

(Reporting by Kevin Murphy in Kansas City, Missouri; Editing by Alex Dobuzinskis and Lisa Shumaker)

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