A number of suspicious packages were removed from the body of a Brazilian man in his early 20s who died on board an Aer Lingus flight to Dublin on Sunday afternoon.
The Irish Sun newspaper reported he was carrying drug packages internally and some may have burst.
The packages were found during a post mortem at Cork University Hospital and have since been sent for forensic testing while Gardaí (Irish police) await a toxicology report.
A 44-year old Portuguese woman who was allegedly traveling with the man also remains in police custody on suspicion of drugs offenses after two kilos of a powdered substance were discovered in her luggage.
The 24-year-old, believed to be from Brazil, is said to have become agitated during the two-hour flight before heading to the bathroom where he became unwell and fell unconscious.
The flight from Lisbon, Portugal, to Dublin was quickly diverted to Cork Airport as the captain called for medical assistance.
The flight landed in Cork at 5.40pm Sunday afternoon, but the man was pronounced dead while still on board.
Another passenger on the flight was also hospitalized for a hand injury and it is believed that the young Brazilian victim bit him while being restrained during a seizure.
A number of packages have been recovered from the body of the man who died on An Aer Lingus flight EI845 @rtenews pic.twitter.com/yTJ8HBVoMH— Paschal Sheehy (@PaschalSheehy) October 19, 2015
Man who bit passenger on Aer Lingus flight suffered 'very violent' death says eyewitness https://t.co/gqkPbAjJJo pic.twitter.com/4IvuMEw4oz— The Daily Record (@Daily_Record) October 19, 2015
The 168 passengers and six flight crew on board flight EI 485 from Lisbon to Dublin were asked to leave the aircraft at Cork Airport and were interviewed by Gardaí before completing their journey to Dublin by bus. The aircraft, which Gardaí had been treating as a crime scene, has since been returned to Aer Lingus.
Witnesses have described how the young man looked unwell as he made his way to the bathroom halfway through the flight from Lisbon before collapsing outside the bathroom door.
An Irish woman in her 30s, who asked not to be named, told the Irish Times she observed the 24-year old sitting three rows in front of her becoming distressed when trying to make his way to the bathroom at the rear of the plane.
“He got up while the cabin crew were at the end of my row giving out tea and coffee,” she told The Irish Times. “He got very distressed when he couldn’t get past and ended up climbing up on the seats to get past the crew. He wasn’t speaking at all and looked really unwell.”
She also said that a Portuguese woman sitting across from her went to check on the young man saying that she had spoken to him at the airport but didn’t come back.
Shortly afterwards, the captain asked if there was a medical professional onboard over the intercom and it is believed that a male doctor and female nurse presented themselves to the crew.
A second announcement was then made stating that due to a medical emergency, the flight would be redirecting to Cork Airport and the woman reports that the news spread down the plane that the young man had collapsed.
“At that stage they started to perform CPR,” she said.
“You could hear him start to... well, screaming isn’t quite the word. It was a guttural noise, like a wounded animal.
“That was quite scary, I realized it was much more serious than I’d thought.”
“It was like a deep anguish, that is the best way I can describe it. It was very, very troubled.”
Passenger recalls 'guttural screams' of man who died on Aer Lingus flight - Irish Independent: Irish Independe... https://t.co/13lvBKhZL3— Randicle (@RandicleNews) October 19, 2015
https://t.co/S7l8LtQ82Y Man who bit fellow passenger on @AerLingus had swallowed several packages....u can imagine the rest. Weird 2 Tragic— Marjorie (@Ocean_State211) October 19, 2015
She believes that a Portuguese man also went to the rear of the plane to see if he could assist and he was the person reportedly bitten.
“The young Brazilian man was having a seizure and they were all restraining him. It wasn’t a random attack. He bit him during the seizure” she continued.
Another witness speaking to Cork radio station 96fm said how the young victim was “shaking violently” and suffering from several seizures.
A Garda statement announced: “Gardaí are investigating the sudden death of a man aged 25 on a flight from Lisbon to Dublin. The flight was diverted to Cork airport when the man on board became agitated. He was attended to by a doctor and nurse who were on the flight but was pronounced dead at the airport at 6.40pm. The body of the man was taken to Cork University Hospital where a PM will be held this afternoon.
“A passenger on the plane received a hand injury during the incident and was treated at CUH.”
RTÉ report that although the man traveling alone on the flight was not Irish he may have been studying in Ireland.
Although earlier reports suggested that the two incidents were unrelated, a Portuguese woman on the same flight was arrested at the scene under Section 2 of the Drug Trafficking Act. Gardaí initially told Mashable that they were unable to find a link between the two people and that they were treating them as separate incidents.
They stated: “During the course of the investigation into this incident Gardaí discovered what they believe to be 1.8kg of amphetamines in the luggage of a woman in her 40s who was on the same flight. The woman, believed to be a Portuguese national was arrested at 11pm and is detained at Togher Garda Station under Section 2 Drug Trafficking Act.”
It was later reported by Newstalk that the 24-year old Brazilian man and 44-year old Portuguese woman may have been traveling together.
She is being held for questioning in Togher Garda station in Cork on suspicion of drug trafficking.
Woman arrested after man who bit passenger mysteriously dies mid-flight. http://t.co/fGiOGMT7Q8
— Gawker (@Gawker) October 19, 2015
Portuguese woman arrested over man's death on Aer Lingus plane http://t.co/GbZtuzaKBN— The Guardian (@guardian) October 19, 2015