US & Canada

Plane stowaway 'wanted to return to Somalia'

A plane taxis after landing at Mineta San Jose International Airport, 21 April 2014
Image caption The teenager leapt a fence at San Jose International Airport, then crossed the tarmac to reach the Hawaiian Airlines plane

The father of a US teenager who stowed away in a wheel well on a flight to Hawaii has said his son was unhappy at school and trying to return to Somalia.

In an interview with US broadcaster Voice of America, Abdilahi Yusuf Abdi said "Allah had saved" his son.

The 16-year-old survived lack of oxygen and freezing temperatures on a five-hour flight from California to Hawaii.

Mr Abdi said his son, Yahya Abdi, would return to California after he finished health checks in Hawaii.

The teenager jumped over a fence at San Jose airport to get to the plane.

He reportedly told investigators he had been in an argument at home and then went to the airport, choosing the aircraft nearest to the fence, according to local media.

Dr Neil Spratt, senior lecturer in neurology at the University of Newcastle, Australia, told the BBC the young man would have likely not survived the lack of oxygen if he had not been exposed to such cold temperatures.

"We know that cold can protect the brain and other organs and it is used for that in various medical situations," Dr Spratt said.

A spokesman for Hawaiian Airlines said airline staff noticed the disorientated boy on the tarmac after the plane landed in Maui on Sunday morning.

He was questioned by the FBI and given a medical screening and was said to be in a stable condition.

A spokeswoman for Hawaiian Airlines said the boy was "exceptionally lucky to have survived".

Mr Abdi told the Voice of America he first heard of the news when Hawaiian police called him to tell him they had his son.

"When I watched the analysis about the extraordinary and dangerous trip of my son on local TVs and that Allah had saved him, I thanked God and I was very happy," he told the broadcaster.

Mr Abdi said his son was "always talking about going back to Africa" and since the family came to the US, the son had been bothered by "education problems".

"We want to go back [to Somalia], but due to the current living conditions we can't go back," the father said.

The 16-year-old transferred into a Santa Clara high school only five weeks ago, according to the school system.

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