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Filipino passenger found dead in plane toilet

MANILA – A Filipino passenger was found dead Wednesday in the toilet of a plane in which he was flying home from the Middle East. Police are investigating whether it was a suicide, officials said.

Gulf Air flight attendants found the man, a cord tied around his neck, as they made last-minute checks before landing in Manila from Bahrain. Crew members and a nurse were unable to revive him, Manila airport officials said.

The 36-year-old man, who died on board Gulf Air flight 154, appeared restless during the flight, police said, citing witnesses.

It was the same Gulf Air flight on which a returning Filipino maid delivered a baby in September. The baby was later found abandoned in the plane’s toilet trash bin and saved by airport doctors.

The man had worked for three months as an electrician in Abu Dhabi, and his wife and relatives had traveled to the airport Wednesday to welcome him back, Manila airport manager Octavio Lina said.

“It was difficult to break the news to his family,” Lina said, adding that police were investigating the man’s background.

Gulf Air said the man was found unconscious in one of the bathrooms about 15 minutes before landing.

“CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) was administered immediately by the cabin crew and continued until the aircraft landed at Manila International Airport where he was pronounced dead by medical authorities,” the airline said in a statement.

The baby abandoned in September was turned over to social workers. Police later found the mother, who told authorities she abandoned him because she feared her husband and family’s reaction.

She said she had been raped by her Middle Eastern employer, and his wife had forced her to return home, officials said. Her story focused public attention on the plight of many overseas Filipinos laborers.

About one in 10 Filipinos work abroad, many as maids and laborers in the Middle East, to escape crushing poverty and unemployment at home.