Flamingos flock hits Emirates flight near Mumbai Airport, plane grounded (Ld)

Mumbai, May 21 (IANS) A flock of at least three dozen Flamingos flying above the Pant Nagar area in Ghatkopar hit an incoming Emirates flight minutes before it landed at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport, official sources said here on Tuesday.

The incident happened late on Monday night. The flight EK-508, with around 310 passengers, made a safe landing around 9.15 p.m., at the CSMIA, the sources said.

The airline team had already informed the airport authorities about the incident and a check by the airport teams did not find any carcasses of the majestic pink birds on or around the runway and airport premises.

Later, a team of forest officials recovered the carcasses of around 37 Flamingos in the Laxminagar area of Pant Nagar, outside the airport boundaries, and a search is on for more.

Though the aircraft is grounded, officials declined to reveal the details of the purported damage suffered by the Emirates plane but said a statement is likely to be issued later.

Wildlife experts like Vanshakti NGO’s D. Stalin said that the cause of the birds flying into the Emirates aircraft is being probed, but surmised that the new power lines passing through the flamingo sanctuary in Thane Creek may have resulted in disorientation to the birds.

According to experts of the Forest Department and Bombay Natural History Society, the remains of the dead birds were found strewn in the vicinity of Laxminagar which were collected and taken away for autopsy.

BNHS Director Kishor Rithe said it could have been a major risk for the flight and the passengers on board, adding that the BNHS would assist the concerned authorities in probing the issue.

Rithe said that the BNHS has earlier stressed the need to protect the high-tide roosting places in and around the coastal areas of Mumbai to prevent any disturbances to the migratory flocks of birds.

An important wetland reserve, the Thane Creek Wildlife Sanctuary comprising the Flamingo Reserve was declared a Ramsar Site in August 2022. The 65 sqkm sanctuary, among the biggest in Asia, is spread from Vashi in Navi Mumbai to Bhandup and attracts lakhs of Flamingos plus other migratory birds for food and nesting, besides tourists and nature lovers.

–IANS

qn/dpb

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