Passengers remain unhurt as stray buffalo damages Boeing 737 aircraft at Indian airport

6 November 2014 (Last Updated November 6th, 2014 18:30)

A total of 140 passengers travelling from Surat, India to New Delhi had a narrow escape after the aircraft hit a stray buffalo on the runway.

A total of 140 passengers travelling from Surat, India to New Delhi had a narrow escape after the aircraft hit a stray buffalo on the runway.

The Boeing 737 aircraft operated by domestic airlines SpiceJet has been damaged substantially but none of the passengers or the staff was injured in the incident, which took place on Thursday evening.

The passengers were later accommodated on an alternative flight.

SpiceJet spokesperson said: "Last night, a stray buffalo hit one of our aircraft on take-off roll at Surat Airport. The buffalo was essentially invisible against a dark background."

"This is a serious incident in which there could have been many fatalities."

Following the accident, SpiceJet has decided to discontinue its operations from the airport for an indefinite period.

Meanwhile, the Indian Civil Aviation Ministry has ordered two separate enquiries, one by the Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) and the other by the Airports Authority of India.

DGCA former chief HS Khosla was quoted by IANS as saying: "This is a serious incident in which there could have been many fatalities.

"The airports authority needs to secure the runway parameters by erecting walls or other methods. Such incidents are more prevalent around those airports, which are surrounded by villages. In such cases it is very important to have necessary robust and effective ways to keep out the stray animals."

Surat Airport is surrounded by fields where grazing cattle are a common sight and one of the animals entered the runway area through the gap in the boundary wall that is now being repaired, reported NDTV.