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Over 30 flamingos killed as Emirates flight hits them in Mumbai

Last updated on: May 21, 2024 18:41 IST

An Emirates flight from Dubai struck a flock of flamingos, resulting in the death of around 40 birds in Mumbai, an official said on Tuesday.

Image used for representational purpose only. Photograph: ANI Photo

“Emirates can confirm that EK508 from Dubai to Mumbai on May 20 was involved in a bird strike incident upon landing. The aircraft landed safely and all passengers and crew disembarked without injury, however sadly a number of flamingos were lost and Emirates is cooperating with the authorities on the matter,” an Emirates spokesperson said.


The aircraft was also damaged in the incident on Monday night and, as a result, the return flight EK509 scheduled to depart to Dubai Monday night was cancelled, the spokesperson said in a statement.

All passengers and crew were accommodated overnight and a replacement aircraft is being arranged for all passengers, Emirates said. The flight is scheduled to depart Mumbai on Tuesday night, the airline added.

“Emirates apologises for any inconvenience caused. The safety of our passengers and crew is of the utmost importance and will not be compromised,” the airline said.

The bird strike, which happened closer to Laxmi Nagar in Ghatkopar East, claimed the lives of at least 36 flamingos, a forest official said.

Environmental activists demanded a probe by DGCA, claiming urban planners had ignored warnings about such incidents.

While a police official said the birds were hit by the aircraft before it landed, Emirates said its aircraft was involved in the bird strike incident upon landing.

Stray dogs scavenged a few birds after they fell on the ground and some body parts were also spotted by locals, said Pawan Sharma, honorary wildlife warden with the forest department.

The carcasses were sent for an autopsy and would later be disposed of as per the protocol, he said.

Zoologist Chinmay Joshi said the Wildlife Conflict Mitigation and Management Plan needs to be reviewed by the airport authorities in coordination with the forest department and wildlife experts to avoid such incidents.

BN Kumar, director of NatConnect Foundation, an environmental protection organization in Navi Mumbai, said he has written to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation seeking a high-level probe to ascertain how the Emirates aircraft hit the birds. Kumar wondered why the pilot could not notice the flock on his radar.

"Had any passenger been affected due to the bird hit, it would have made global headlines, but the death of 40 flamingos does not seem to bother the authorities and urban planners in particular," Kumar said.

Kumar cautioned that the upcoming international airport in neighbouring Navi Mumbai could also be prone to such incidents.

This is because the wetlands and the flamingo abodes in Navi Mumbai are being systematically buried despite warnings from organisations such as BNHS, he said.

The flamingos were apparently on way to Gujarat and their death is a warning on impending disasters, Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) researcher Mrugank Prabhu said.

Environmental activist D Stalin from NGO Vanshakti suggested that the new power lines through the sanctuary area might be causing disorientation among the birds, leading to Monday's incident.

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