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Sixteen-year-old boy survives five-hour flight in wheel well

A sixteen-year-old teenager is unharmed after surviving a Hawaiian Airlines flight from California to Hawaii in the plane's wheel well. He was unconscious for most of the flight, which lasted more than five hours.

The boy, who has not been identified, stowed away in the wheel well of Hawaiian Airlines flight 45, which landed in Maui on Sunday. He had run away from home after an argument.

He survived the five-hour flight despite freezing temperatures and a lack of oxygen at 11,500 meters altitude (38,000 feet). When the plane landed in Maui, the boy hopped down from the well and started wandering around, until he was spotted without identification by ground staff, according to the airline.

"Kid's lucky to be alive," FBI Spokesman Tom Simon said. CCTV footage verified that the boy jumped over a fence to get to the plane on Sunday morning.

"It's just an apparent miracle... There was no appearance of any special gear of any sort," Simon said, adding that he was "unconscious for the lion's share of the flight."

The boy, who is from Santa Clara, California, was found to be unharmed after a medical examination. He will not be charged and was referred to child protective services.

In August, a teenage boy in Nigeria survived a 35-minute trip in the wheel well, authorities credited the flight's short duration. Others stowing away in wheel wells have died, including a 16-year-old killed on a flight from Charlotte, North Carolina, to Boston in 2010 and a man who fell onto a London street from a flight from Angola in 2012.

ng/hc (Reuters, AP, dpa)