Suspected drugs smuggler dies on transatlantic plane

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The Independent US

A British suspected drugs smuggler has died and a man is critically ill in hospital after being taken ill on a transatlantic plane.

A Thomsonfly flight from Cancun in Mexico to Birmingham was forced to divert to Portugal's Azores Islands yesterday.

Leonora Bettencourt, director of the Santo Espirito Hospital in Angra do Heroismo, near where the emergency stop was made, told Lisbon radio station TSF that a 23-year-old woman was dead on arrival.

A 21-year-old man was in a coma, she said.

Ms Bettencourt said the two showed signs of having "taken illegal substances". She said hospital tests had already identified the substance but declined to say what it was because of a police investigation.

A Foreign Office spokesman could not confirm any personal details about the pair, but said both were from Britain.

He said the woman had died on board the flight and the man was in a "critical" condition in hospital.

He said: "Our consular officials are in contact with the hospital. Next of kin have not yet been informed."

He would not comment on speculation about a drugs overdose, adding: "A police investigation is under way and an autopsy will be carried out."

But a spokeswoman for Thomsonfly did not have any information about a woman dying on board the plane.

She said that the plane's pilot had decided to divert the aircraft due to a male passenger suffering a heart attack on board.

The spokeswoman said: "The pilot made the decision to divert the aircraft into the Azores as a medical emergency, the passenger (male) was treated during the flight by two doctors on board and once landed in the Azores he left the aircraft with three other passengers who were travelling with him."

She said the Thomsonfly flight left Mexico yesterday at 1am (GMT) and arrived at the Azores at 7.30am.

It left for Birmingham a couple of hours later, arriving just after 1pm.

There were 280 passengers that departed from Mexico and 276 passengers left the Azores, the spokeswoman added.